Plenary voices: Gabriele Turchi

Gabriele Turchi's intervention on families caused ripples at the Plenary and has won widespread praise

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A child holds a crucifix as Pope Francis leads an audience with members of the Neocatechumenal Way in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Photo: CNS, Tony Gentile, Reuters

My name is Gabriele and I wanted to address the council regarding the role of Christian Families in the Domestic Church in Australia.

Families need to be accompanied in their journey of faith. In recent years they have been overlooked in an attempt to be inclusive to all others.

They have been overlooked also because they have in many ways ceased to exist. Where are the children in our churches? Humane Vitae was never taken seriously.

I am 42, I have been married 18 years to my wife Anna and we have nine children. I work as a teacher in one of our Catholic Schools, Casimir Catholic College in Marrickville.

In my experience I have noted the following:

Society readily accepts that “it takes a village to raise a child”. This has been lost in the Church. People outside the Church react with more Joy to the sight of a big family than within the Church. Within the Church the sight of my children leads to comments about the lack of TVs in my house. As Christians we are a living sign of contradiction, so I would expect society to make a joke of me. But the faithful and the priests? This is very discouraging. As discouraging are comments regarding the presumed forced submission of my wife to my will? Our ninth child, Sebastian George, was born with Down syndrome. We have been asked if we were familiar with family planning, contraception, the related challenges etc. The answer is Yes, Yes, Yes, but that is not the will of God for the Christian Family.

People outside the Church react with more Joy to the sight of a big family than within the Church. Within the Church the sight of my children leads to comments about the lack of TVs in my house

My wife is a well-educated psychologist. She is much more intelligent than I. My wife worked until our fourth child. She is a woman of faith, a real woman. Let us not kid ourselves, a mother sacrifices everything for the family. Together with me, we live in a certain tension, a certain precariousness. It is not all beautiful and rosy. We are not superhuman people who really love children. I never wanted to be married nor to have children. God has done everything little by little. But together we try every day to transmit faith to our children.

Families live amongst the Secular Society. Every day they need to navigate through secular ideologies in order to protect the children. These secular ideologies, particularly regarding gender identity, have now also infiltrated our Catholic schools.

Families live amongst the Secular Society. Every day they need to navigate through secular ideologies in order to protect the children. These secular ideologies, particularly regarding gender identity, have now also infiltrated our Catholic schools.

I urge you all to renew your commitment to Christian Families. We must be accompanied in the Truth. As St John Paul II states, so that we may become experts in suffering like the Holy Family of Nazareth, teaching our children the art of living, never forgetting that God loves us exactly as we are.

Families need to be supported in their faith by a community of brothers and sisters that help them and encourage them.

Priests need to walk side by side with families and be a constant presence in their lives. Priests must guard their Hope. If the Christian Family loses hope, the family and the fabric of society breaks down.

Families join to pray the Rosary at home. Gabriele Turchi issued an impassioned plea to Plenary members for the Church not to forget the beauty of its teaching on marriage and the family. Photo: CNS, Doug Hesse, The Leaven.

Priests have been a lifeline in my life! And so have been my Catechists that have loved me, corrected me, encouraged me and given me hope all through my life but especially when in my life, in my marriage I hit rock bottom. In that situation they told me, look you are not at the end. God loves you so much that he has sent His Son to go further into your death so that you can have life again. This has been true. I believed! And God rebuilt my marriage, and has given me a second, third, fourth chance to meet Christ, and begin to love him. This lifelong link to my catechists and priest has been vital for me and God called my family to it through the Neocatechumenal Way.

With this poverty, families will evangelise the world!

They can be a sign of the risen Christ to all who look at them. A sign of the forgiveness of sins and the possibility of living eternal life right now.

The children grow up witnessing the miracles that God does with their parents. Out of gratitude to the Lord some will become priests, some will join religious orders, some will be missionaries, and some will be married and continue to be that sign for generations still to come.

I urge you, do not forget Christian families.

Members of communities of the Neocatechumenal Way in Sydney sing while delivering a ‘Mission in the Parks’ one of several conducted around Sydney on the weekend of 22 April 2018. As marriage, priesthood and religious life have all faced significant challenges and numerically receded in modern times, ecclesial movements such as the Neocatechumenal Way and many others have helped filled the void. Photo: Peter Rosengren

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