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Spiritual practices key to keeping family strong, Indian cardinal says


  • Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, arrives for a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Cardinals Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal of Trivandrum, India, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; arrive for the morning session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham holds an image showing the Holy Family as he arrives for a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Spirituality is "the backbone" of Christian family life, and it must be encouraged and nourished, especially when it is threatened by a culture focused on making money and having the latest modern conveniences, said Indian Cardinal Baselios Thottunkal.

The cardinal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, said he is grateful that Christians in India have held on to their spiritual and cultural tradition of strong family life, and he was proud to share that with other members of the Synod of Bishops on the family.

Speaking to Catholic News Service Oct. 15, Cardinal Thottunkal said most Christian families in India still have a strong conviction that "a family that prays together stays together."

Particularly for the Eastern Christians -- Catholic as well as Orthodox -- that includes "family prayer, the common Bible reading, the fasts, the abstinences" as well as cultural family traditions, he said. "Spirituality is the backbone of the family; it doesn't survive by itself. It needs to be nourished by the Christian virtues, the Christian practices and the religiosity of the Christian church."

The variety of spiritual traditions and cultures within the universal Catholic Church is not something to fear, the cardinal said, but an opportunity to share for the benefit of all.

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