Thursday, October 9, 2014

Synod - Day 3

I thought that I would simply share with you a few quotes from the approximately 60 4-minute talks we listened to on this Wednesday. The themes that were addressed were: the challenges families face in today's world; particular situations that require the Church's pastoral care. I've noted the continents or regions in order to help set the context for these quotes.

(North America) Two great challenge in pastoral care of the faithful: i. to form active, faithful families (marriage prep, catechetical tools, movements that support families, new media); and ii. to reach out to broken families.

(Europe) We need to renew our engagement in proclaiming the beauty of the family. The ministry of the couple is not limited to the exchange of vows, but to the whole of family life. This ministry is broken when one of the parents is absent. We need to reach out to these situations. And greater care must be given to marriage preparation, where mentor couples can witness to stable, faithful relationships in a world where many young people do not experience this.

(Europe) The importance of lay movements in this area of Church life, of social life: they are part of the Spirit's response to the crisis of the family in the world. We need to reconfirm the faith of the Church in the youth of today as new evangelizers of the world.

(Asia) Families are being eroded, especially in urban areas. There are four problems: Finances - both parents need to work, creating great stress; Migration of one parent for work - prolonged separations; Media - they present a glamorous but unreal, making real family life unappetizing; Globalization - materialism becomes the normal value. Four remedies: Spirituality and Prayer - ex. Family masses; Media - Guiding the youth in their use; Devotional practices - Marian feasts are popular: occasions to be used in evangelization of families; Youth apostolate - the grounding of our future families.

(Africa) In our country, only 27 percent of children grow up with both biological parents present (in most cases, the father is absent). i. We need to simplify the annulment process. Can we not provide for an oral contentious process? ii. Could there be a presumption of validity of a second marriage if it is fruitful and permanent? This could be a way to open to communion of the divorced and civilly remarried. iii. Greater effort is needed to prepare young people for Christian marriage, and the parish community has to take this up. We need to provide good role models for youth. We need to provide good ministry of men to and for men.

(Europe) The exclusion of divorced and remarried Catholics from communion should NOT be interpreted as a judment on the moral value of their lives. We hurt them deeply when we say that they cannot receive communion because they are in a state of mortal sin. This is not why communion is incompatible with a second marriage: rather, it is because communion is an expression of the nuptial relationship between Christ and his Church. Marriage is also an expression of this love, and a person who has broken his marriage and taken up a second relationship finds himself or herself in a situation which is symbolically incompatible with the meaning of communion.

(Africa) We need to take a new look at polygamy. It is considered a normal state of affairs in many places. People have difficulty understanding why this condition is closed to God's saving love in Jesus-Christ. If divorced and remarried couples are admitted to communion, we could not refuse communion to those who are living polygamy. I think we have to find an approach which focuses on each individual situation, rather than an absolute or general yes or no.

... So there you have a few voices from the synod hall. I hope it helps you understand the great diversity of realities that are faced by families and by the Church throughout the world. Finding a common way forward is a great challenge. It's a good thing we'll have a year to reflect on and discuss these issues before gathering again to propose solutions!


  1. Look, with all due respect, the Church should not be making decisions based on some survey. Do you really expect us to believe that all you have heard at the synod is anything more than anecdotal evidence?

    The fact of the matter is that those who live publicly in mortal sin should indeed be denied communion. It is suppossed to make people offended and upset. That is what motivates them to correct their lives. Even if they do not correct it, it will prevent others from adopting that same sinful activity themselves lest they too be in the same position.

    You are making a mockery of Catholic teaching by reducing it to some anecdotal evidence based conclusions. It is not only bad theology but it is bad from the point of view of how one collects data (representative sample size and so forth). Please do your duty to God and to the faithful than stoop down to please the people.

    You seem more interested in not making public sinners feel offended (which is the very opposite of what you should be doing to discourage sinful acts from spreading). Only result you can expect from your policies is for this immorality spread more and more.

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