by Martin Newland
BRINGING God into the home again and putting him in his rightful place in "the kitchen, at table,atthe clothesline. . .wherever", is one of the aims of "A Shared Life", part of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales' attempt to boost Catholic marriage and family life.
The series of resource and information packs were launched in April by the Bishops' Conference. The aim is to span the years 1987-90 with six resource packs on the family and marriage, dwelling on topics ranging from being good grandparents to the pastoral implications of the AIDS virus.
Part two of the series features strongly on the duty of parents to make the family the basic unit of Christian education for the child. The resource pack mourns the fact that "we, the most educated and affluent parents in history," cannot assume the role of teacher. It goes on to describe ways in which "the healthy family" may be recognised and gives advice on ways in which religion can be brought into the home.
"A Shared Life" lists and describes organisations which help the family and comes to grips with the growing tendency towards mixed marriages. Listed also is a run down of other agencies that centre themselves around the family such as the Union of Catholic Mothers and The Grail organisation which offers training days for those interested in fostering the healthy family, or which minister more directly to Catholic familieis through encounter weekends.
The single parent is also focused upon by the resource pack which condemns discrimination against single parent families as "judgmental, insensitive and often uncaring."
Fr John Guest of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, who played a major part in producing the bishops' marriage initiative, told the Catholic Herald that concentration on marginalised groups such as single parent families was part of a policy "to show pastoral care of all people, regardless of their disposition."
The resource pack asks local communities to examine educational practices in schools and the liturgy also for language or practices which may result in the increasing ostracisation of single parents and their children.
"A Shared Life" ends with recommendations for some liturgies which may be used in the family to show that God can be encountered outside the church.
"Whereas part one of the series concentrated on the early years of marriage, the intention here is to help out with the business of raising children. These are not propositions to be imposed on a parish but rather tools which can be used to help a community examine how it caters for its families," said Fr Guest.