by Fr Duncan McVicar on 08/10/2014 -
What’s going on? Here are some of the highlights you can hear at the Synod for the Family in Rome: The Oct. 5-19 meeting is being held on the topic “The Pastoral Challenges on the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The Synod has 253 participants: 2 from Africa, 38 from America, 29 from Asia, 78 from Europe and 4 from Oceania. During the course of the conference, the speakers agreed that Church leaders must truly listen to their people, be genuine, seek consensus, and discern new ways of supporting the family and the life of the family. In the face of many contemporary difficulties, there is a need for mercy. The Gospel of the family offers itself as a remedy, a “true medicine”. Not doctrinal, but rather practical questions – inseparable from the truths of faith – are in discussion in this Synod. This leads to the need for greater formation, above all for engaged couples, so that they are clearly aware both of the sacramental dignity of marriage, based on “uniqueness, fidelity and fruitfulness,” and of its nature as “in institution in society”. Every family is a “school of humanity” and “a new culture of the family can be the starting point for a renewed human civilization.” The Synod will try and support couples in difficult marital conditions; the Church is the “House of the Father.” A “renewed and adequate action of family pastoral” is necessary, in particular to enable couples to feel loved by God and the Parish community, from a merciful perspective that does not, however, cancel out “truth and justice.” “Consequently, mercy does not take away the commitments which arise from the demands of the marriage bond,” the report explains, adding, “They will continue to exist even when human love is weakened or has ceased. This means that, in the case of a (consummated) sacramental marriage, after a divorce, a second marriage recognized by the Church is impossible, while the first spouse is still alive.” The Synod focuses on the Gospel of life: existence is from conception to natural death. “Openness to life is an essential part and intrinsic need of conjugal love. Stressing the importance of accompanying and supporting families in their everyday journey, the Synod says, “Family tragedies are often the result of desperation, loneliness and a painful cry which no one knew how to discern”. In order to overcome any “privatization of love” which empties the family of meaning and instead entrusts it to individual choice, it is therefore important to rediscover a sense of widespread and concrete solidarity. To achieve this, it is necessary to create conditions which are favourable to welcoming a child and for caring for the elderly as social assets to be protected and promoted. Moreover, the Church should devote herself in a special way to education in love and sexuality, explaining its value and avoiding banalization and superficiality. The challenge for this Synod, is to try to bring to today’s world, while taking into account the complexity of society, “the attractiveness of the Christian message” about marriage and the family and giving answers that are true and full of charity”, because “the world needs Christ.” The wise words of Pope Francis are applicable here: “If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life” (Evangelii gaudium, 49).
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