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Family Synod ’14 – Jesus met individuals not general cases


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 11/10/2014 -

What’s going on in the Synod? Here are some of the things you can hear: Each person is an individual person, Jesus didn’t meet general cases, he met and addressed individuals. The Synod is stressing the need for language “which invites, rather than repels” and for support groups, including for those with a homosexual orientation. The Church is the house of the Father, and must therefore offer patient accompaniment to all people, including those who find themselves in difficult pastoral situations. The Catholic Church encompasses healthy families and families in crisis, and therefore in her daily effort of sanctification must not show indifference in relation to weakness, as patience implies actively helping the weakest. It was strongly emphasised that an attitude of respect must be adopted in relation to divorced and remarried persons, as they often live in situations of unease or social injustice, suffer in silence and in many cases seek a gradual path to fuller participation in ecclesial life. Pastoral care must not therefore be repressive, but full of mercy. Attention returned to the need for greater preparation for marriage, especially among the young, to whom the beauty of sacramental union must be presented, along with an adequate emotional education that is not merely a moralistic exhortation that risks generating a sort of religious and human illiteracy. The path to marriage must involve a true growth of the person. The debate turned to the issue of the responsibility of parents in educating their children in faith and in the teachings it offers: such responsibility is primordial, it was said, and it is important to pay it suitable attention. With regard to children, the negative impact of contraception on society and resulting decline in the birth rate was underlined. It was remarked that Catholics should not remain silent in relation to this issue, but should instead bring a message of hope: children are important, they bring life and joy to their parents, and they reinforce faith and religious practices. The testimony of the couple Stephen and Sandra Conway who run marriage support groups in South Africa included this: “Our programme looks at the four stages of marriage – romance, disillusionment, misery and joy. Some couples get stuck between the stages of disillusionment and misery. It is in the misery stage that many throw in the towel. It is our aim to equip couples with tools and techniques to get to the joy stage of marriage – where the emphasis is on US as opposed to the ME or I attitude found in the single married lifestyle. We explain that love is a decision, not a feeling; as is trust and forgiveness. We also encourage forgiveness setting the hurt party free. We use the Parable of the Prodigal Son to show that just as the Father forgave his Son, we too can forgive ourselves and each other the hurts of the past – we can come back to the Father’s house – the church and our homes. We can be the forgiving Father, by making the decision to forgive. We can also be the forgiven Son, by receiving forgiveness offered by our hurting spouse. Children are greatly affected by an unhappy marriage. We have a few teachers on our team – they often share on the pain and hurt shown in the children of separated, divorced or unhappy marriages. We emphasise that the best gift couples can give their children is to decide to love each other; to put their marriage first; and to stand united in all decision involving the children. It inspires us when we receive letters from children, after their parents have completed our programme, and thank us for their new Mum and Dad.”

 




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