By Matías Rodríguez/University Students from Campanario – via www.jmschoenstatt.cl •
In the last century, Father Kentenich stood firm in saying that we were experiencing an epoch without fathers. The different crises we are experiencing today have a great relationship to this lack of paternity. Leadership, welcoming, responsibility for one’s own, and education in freedom and love are characteristics of a father which are no longer seen today with a simple glance into our families, institutions and symbols of authority.
Now we can go beyond what was expressed by Father Joseph Kentenich and say that we are in an epoch longing for fathers. We need fathers in our families who are able to healthily face the tensions of a world which asks for more and more. We need fathers to counsel those friends and brothers and sisters who are hurting or are in need. We need fathers in politics who know how to guide our country, who are able to take the reins of our institutions and who, with their leadership, can guide towards a better future. We need fathers for our children who know how to educate them in values of freedom and love. Anyway, we need fathers to respond to the challenges of today’s world, and especially, to respond to the challenges of Chile today.
A lack of fathers
Which are these challenges? Diverse studies in Chile give us a clear demonstration of what would appear as a lack in the sense of being a child and, likewise, bad paternity. Thus, we see that 25% of children are the object of intra-family abuse, ill-treatment, abandonment or lack of encouragement. In the same way, 28% of the infant population between the ages of 4 and 11, manifest psychiatric pathologies. What kind of a society are we building for our children? All of these bad child experiences (ill-treatment, feelings of not belonging, abandonment, lack of security and confidence) in the future could be translated into rejection by a great number of people when they assume their roles as fathers with society, their families and with themselves. Therefore, we arrive to the fact that 47% of our population in prison begins to commit crimes at the age of 13. All of these are symptoms of an illness which afflict our society: a lack of fathers.
A renewal of the world through a renewal of the father
It would seem that we are in a vicious circle which we will never get out of and today’s Chile clamors for a renewal of fatherhood. Father Kentenich stood firm in pointing as a way “to arise in an eminent way an epoch with a paternal conscience and a renewal of the world through the renewal of the father.” But, what fathers are we speaking of? A father is one who procreates life, one who awakens the best in another person. He is one who is responsible for that life and one who generates freedom in the child. Those are the fathers we need today, those who do not reject anyone because they see in each person a great potential to educate.
We need men disposed to assume their role as fathers in society, and even moreso, men disposed to generate attachments, the initial kick-off in all human relationships. Perhaps the first step in going out to encounter others and to rebuild broken bridges is not so simple because it requires opening the heart, giving confidence blindly, and giving oneself even with the possibility of suffering. The encounter with another person is a risk, but it is what our country needs. It is the step toward a better society in an epoch longing for fathers. We need to become responsible for those who become attached to us because of the life we have created in others, without rejecting anyone, but welcoming others, and even more important, being fathers to everyone.