Włodzimierz Rędzioch talks with Costanza Miriano about the World Families Meeting

Costanza Miriano comes from Perugia but lives in Rome. She works for the public television RAIl first she worked for TV everyday news ‘TG3’, and now she deals with religious news in RAI and cooperates with various magazines. But – as she emphasizes – she is mainly a wife and mother of four children. She is a fervent Catholic and does not conceal her religious feelings either in her personal or professional life. She belongs to a Committee ‘Let’s protect our children’ which organized manifestations Family Day in Italy. Among her lots of duties, Costanza Miriano still finds time to write books at night, which arouse lots of emotions. The first one, entitled ‘Sposati e sii sottomessa’, became not only a literary event in Italy and all other countries, where it came out. In Poland it is entitled: ‘Get married and give in. Extreme experiences for brave women’ (Espirit Publishing House). This is a series of genuine, witty, ironic and funny letters, in which Costanza writes about love, marriage and family. In Spain feminists and leftist politicians did not want to allow for publication of this book, as – in their opinion – ‘it defends women’s subordination’ and is ‘an incitement for violence against women’. There was a discussion on it also in the Spanish parliament and there were attempts to submit the issue of publishing it to the procurators. Whereas the title of the book are simply the words taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. After such strong reactions to the first book, the author realized that it was necessary to write another book in order to explain women how to talk to men. And it was hot the book was written: ‘Marry her and be ready to die for her’ – in this case the title refers to another fragment of the Letter: ‘And you, husbands, love your wives with the same devotion, with which Christ loved the Church. He devoted his life for it…’Despite the severe criticism of feminists from various environments and attacks of laic media, the books became bestsellers – about 100 thousand copies of their each title were published.

In the hot summer morning I met Costanza Miriano in a Roman bar – the topic of our talk were not her books though, but the forthcoming World Families Meeting in Dublin.

WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH: - On 22-26 August this year there is going to be the IX World Families Meeting, this time in Dublin in Ireland. This is a very important event for everybody who are concerned about the fate of families in the contemporary world…

CONSTANZA MIRIANO: - Since the year 1994, every third year there have been Families Meetings whose initiator was St. John Paul II – this is one of many prophetic ideas of the Pope from Poland. It was just when the UNO summoned everybody to celebrate the international Year of Family, and the Church responded to this appeal, organizing the World Families Meetings in order to present the world its vision of family. Certainly, these are not the meetings during which practical help is given to families or the closeness of the Church is manifested t families – it is done (or should be done) everyday in parishes and other church environments. It also results from the fact that these meetings are usually attended by families already engaged in the activity of the Church and belonging to various associations and organizations.

So, what is the significance of the World Families Meetings?

In my opinion the main purpose of these meetings is basically communicative: they are to be a sign for the world, promoting ideas concerning family through statements of qualified speakers and a rich program. Certainly, media usually speak only about a few, carefully chosen words of the pope. But for millions of families which are observing the meetings at home, they have a value of prophetic zodiac.

But this year you are concerned by the forthcoming meeting which is going to be held in Dublin. Why?

I am worried because among the speakers there is Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit who is going to give a lecture entitled – ‘Showing welcome and respect in our Parishes for ‘LGBT’ People and their Families’. This American Jesuit wrote a book in which he says that if people who are attracted by the people of the same sex, are unhappy, this is the fault of the Church. He does not write about any abuses which a lot of us have experience; he does not write that homosexual acts are very contradictive with human unhappiness, but he writes about the ‘evil’ in the Church.

Why do you think that the Church should not use the acronym ‘LGBT’?

It should be emphasized that the acronym ‘LGBT’ was made up by fighting homosexuals. But it means ‘attach a label’ to a man regarding his sexual desire, that is, deprive him of his dignity as a person who is and will always be something more than a sexual drive. A man is simply a person and will never be a person LGBT. What is worrying is the fact that the acronym ‘LGBT’ has appeared officially in the ecclesiastical document the second time.

And when was it used for the first time?

It was used for the first time to a request of the youth during working out a preparatory Document of the Bishops’ Synod about the youth. It seemed very absurd to me, as fathers should not agree to all the craziness of my children but correct them so that they would be grown up well and be happy. However, this time a priest decides to use it, that is, somebody who should know the Church’s attitude very well. After all, the Church is not his, but he has a deposit of faith which he received and must pass it over to others.

So, what can there be consequences of the presence of Fr. Martin at the Families Meeting in Dublin?

First of all, this is like a slap on the face against millions of families, which are struggling with various problems day by day or great effort when there is work; which must face up to poverty or problems connected with having a disabled child; which are fighting in order to maintain faithful to their marriage, and with temptation of resigning from everything. When opening magazines, those families will read about the warrior priest. Nothing will be about beautiful testimonies of the family life, about experiencing work with ‘hurt’ families, about enormous richness of wisdom which the Church can offer in this sphere.

You work in media and know very well how they work. How, in your opinion, do media use the presence of Fr. Martin?

I know very well that when there is a conference of an official initiative, media never give essential information, considered as too institutional and formal. In the journalistic jargon it is said: ‘make a space on the margin’, or write something which does not concern the main topic of the conference, as it is considered as boring, but write about something intriguing instead, which can raise the number of viewers by minimum or gain one more clicked ‘like’. This is the illness of media and we must be aware of it. If in Dublin there is a priest who is pro LGBT, he will be the news for newspapers – a priest who does not agree with catechism (he says that it leads to suicides!), not a married couple who say how they came out of a crisis or how to stay together by giving their hearts to Christ or how they are becoming one body when experiencing this great mystery about which Jesus says in the Gospel. It happened the same with the papal document ‘Amoris laetitia’ - for a majority of people or two paragraphs of the 7th chapter removed all other things, as people, unfortunately, stopped reading the whole papal documents – letters, apostolic exhortations, encyclicals.

Who is to be blamed for the existing situation?

I do not know. But I know that for many people Fr. Martin was not a welcomed person and that there were attempts to tug a war in order to make it impossible to invite him. I do not know who was for inviting him but I can just imagine it. I do not know who lost – families and also the Church lose credibility as the LGBT lobby has nothing in common with the Families Meeting.

How can we help a family in which there is a person with the same-sex orientation?

Firstly, this is not the topic of the Families Meetings. The topic is the family, that is, mainly relationship between a woman and a man and bringing up children. This is enough as for the topic of the meetings, lectures, conferences and catechesis, considering the universal analphabetism in this area. And if we want to deal with particular problems of children – because if we want to discuss homosexuality, we cannot speak about couples, but about parents who want to help their children – why should we deal only with this problem? Why don’t we help parents with children in the state of depression, with various addictions (to drugs, computer, hazard games, etc.), with nourishment disorders and to all other problems connected with puberty period?
But if we really want to concentrate on people of the same sex, we should invite the association ‘Courage’ (www.couragerc.org) whose catholic apostolate concerns this specific problem and helps others discover how this wound may lead to meeting with God’s love.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 33/2018 (19 VIII 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl