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Synod 14 Relatio

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Today there was a media frenzy and a Catholic blogsophere explosion when news of a document from the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops was released.

The document released called “The relatio,” is simply a summary of what was discussed. It attempts to collect the comments, ideas and discussions made during the meetings and summarizes them.

So what’s the problem?

Well… some Catholics, or those who call themselves “conservative” Catholics are crying foul and betrayal after the media presented this document as the Church changing its teachings on homosexuality, divorce etc. An “earthquake in Rome” is what some newspapers used as a title for their stories.  The document is seen as controversial.  Some Cardinals said the document was not clear enough and was even erroneous.  Particular paragraphs were cited and caused this uproar:

“Welcoming homosexual persons

50.        Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

51.        The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

     52.        Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.” – http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/13/0751/03037.html

The media presented the above as a flag announcing change in the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality. Naive reactionaries in the Catholic blogsophere were quick to believe the media’s take on this and considered it a betrayal. They took to their blogs citing heresy and that liberalism has taken over the Church. Reactionaries such as Michael Voris took to YouTube to claim that Satan is involved in the Synod using the words “striking at the shepherd.”

Let’s clear it up

First, The Relatio is simply a summary. Think of it as minutes in a meeting that records what was discussed but is presented in a summarized fashion.  This document has no binding on Church teaching.  It merely stated what was discussed in the Synod.

Second, this Synod cannot change Catholic teaching.  No one can!  Even if Bill Maher or Rush Limbaugh were Cardinals in the Synod, they do not have the authority to change the Church’s teachings.

Third, the Relatio posted is not an official translation. This is important because words change meaning many times when translated to other languages. What we are reading in English now, may not be what was exactly said in Italian or Latin.  That being said, it is understandable why the document may be interpreted as not being really clear.

Welcoming

Pope Francis has made it his mission to make the Church what she truly is: the Bride of Christ who welcomes all, the good and bad on the main road as we read in the Gospel for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary time (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2014/10/god-provides-people-decline-28th-sunday.html) .  Jesus died on the cross with His arms wide open welcoming all to come.  However, this does not mean all will be saved just for “showing up. (Matthew 7:21)”  We have to have to be “properly dressed

The Church would not be doing Christ’s work if she scares people away (CCC 845).  She is not an elite group meant for a selected few. If we are to believe that “Outside of the Church There is No Salvation, (CCC 846-848)” then logic dictates that this Church must be open to all so that they can enter and be saved in Christ Jesus. Once the Church installs “sin detectors” at the doors, figuratively speaking, then she will cease to be that source of salvation because she would have closed the doors to those who the detectors screen out.  This is why the words Pope Francis said during World Youth Day must be mediated upon. “If  someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? (see: Pope On Gays)”

Notice the Pope says, “..he searches for the Lord and has good will…” This distinction must be made clear to all.  There is the homosexual person who is actively gay and does not care.  Then there is the homosexual person who knows he or she is of that orientation, but does not give into its temptations and seeks God.  The latter is whom the Pope was referring to. Again, the media took his words and went with the wind with them.  Today’s the Relatio reports by the world’s media has done it again.

 

Blogger and convert Father Longenecker asked on his blog “What I don’t understand here is the focus on homosexuals as such. Why pick them out as deserving of some special mention?”  Well Father, the reason they are mentioned is because they are the ones who are often pushed aside by priests and lay people for being homosexual.  How many homosexuals who work for a parish or Catholic school are fired when news of their relationships are revealed at the parish?  Do you think that rings of welcoming to you in the eyes of homosexuals?  I understand that employees have to sign contracts, but dioceses have to find a way to be welcoming without compromising the teachings of the Church.  This is not easy.  The Church has to address this issue and cannot pretend homosexuals do not exist.  This is why they are being focused on.

In America, when Puerto Ricans arrived and wanted to attend Mass just like they were accustomed to doing on the island of Puerto Rico, many of them were told by Irish and Italian Catholics that they were not welcomed. In some instances, they were made to pay to attend Mass at a lower Church or auditorium.  This led to many Puerto Ricans leaving the Catholic Church to join Evangelical and Pentecostal communities which were open to them(a).  Do we want a repeat of this ignorance by sanctimonious Catholics who believe they know more than the Pope and bishops and that the Church was made just for a specific group?

I used to be an atheist.  Atheists are known for being arrogant and repugnant. We give ourselves a sense of accomplishment as being “rationalists” or “enlightened” often looking at religious people in a condescending manner.  Had the Catholics I met during my transition been unwelcoming, I would not be here now on this blog, on twitter, or aspiring to be a priest.  Instead, I would be on the other side writing how the Catholic Church is an elitist cult that only welcomes certain people while its founder welcomed all.  Being welcoming to all is extremely important.  If homosexuals and others who are in open defiance of the Church and God do not have a place in the Church that they can return to and repent, then what hope do they have?  It’s depressing to see some Catholic lay people respond so negatively to the idea of being Christian and welcoming others.

Satan in the Church

Some bloggers are citing the “smoke of Satan” in the Church to describe the Relatio today.  This is just silly and gives me a chuckle.  Do they really have to take Pope Paul VI’s words and distort them? Seriously?  Satan has always been in the Church since day one!  He did not show up in the 1960’s or now in the 2000’s.  The Synod discussing how to be more welcoming while at the same time remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church is not Satan at work!  Does this mean that there are no clerics or lay people in the Church with ulterior motives?  Absolutely not!  I have run into many “interesting” priests, bishops, religious and lay people who caused my “bovem stercore” meter to go haywire.

Pope Emeritus made it clear as Cardinal Ratizinger about some in the Church trying to “okay” homosexual behavior:

 “Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity. Those within the Church who argue in this fashion often have close ties with those with similar views outside it. These latter groups are guided by a vision opposed to the truth about the human person, which is fully disclosed in the mystery of Christ. They reflect, even if not entirely consciously, a materialistic ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual.

The Church’s ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church. But the risk is great and there are many who seek to create confusion regarding the Church’s position, and then to use that confusion to their own advantage.” – http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

Nevertheless, we must not worry about these in the Church who try to push their ideas on the teachings of the Church.  Once again, they cannot!  The Church’s teachings are as changeable as the universe’s ordering of  photon masses that excludes mass 5.  Had the universe included mass 5, stars would not have formed and we would not be here.  Just this minor change would destroy what we know of as the universe today.  The same would be if any attempt would be made to change Church teachings.  The Church would simply implode and cease to exist.  Naturally, no change can ever be possible.  The static nature of Church teaching is the base from which the human soul molds itself back into the image of God.

Let the Pope and bishops work things out via prayer and faith.  We should not become reactionaries spewing accusations of heresy and falsehoods on YouTube or blogs.  Catholics should focus on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ and not gloom and doom.  The fixation some Catholics have with homosexuality, abortion and contraception must stop.  As Pope Benedict XVI said:

“We should not allow our faith to be drained by too many discussions of multiple, minor details, but rather, should always keep our eyes in the first place on the greatness of Christianity.

I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and ’90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.

If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith – a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.”

–Benedict XVI, Address to Swiss Bishops 2006

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/november/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20061109_concl-swiss-bishops_en.html 

Let’s show the world how welcoming, loving and Christ is by being welcoming of all peoples.  The Catholic Church is like a field hospital that welcomes all as Pope Francis described her many times.

Source:

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/13/0751/03037.html

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/10/13/synod_on_family_midterm_report_presented,_2015_synod_announ/1108442

http://www.catholicsun.org/2014/10/13/family-synod-midterm-report-welcome-gays-nonmarital-unions/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2014/10/13/gradualism-two-more-thoughts-on-its-gravity/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2014/10/13/relatio-oy-problematic-paragraph-50-synod14/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/10/homosexuals-have-gifts-to-offer.html

(a) http://www.trincoll.edu/prog/ctpeople/PuertoRicans/history.htm

 http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/30/hispanics-and-catholic-new-york/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=10944

http://ncronline.org/blogs/francis-chronicles/pope-s-quotes-field-hospital-church

*****************************************************************

**UPDATE:  October 16, 2014


As expected, the draft of the Relatio was mmistranslatedand had many errors.  The Italian word for evaluation was mistranslated to “valuing.”  Moreover, changes were made so that the document says “providing for” instead of “welcoming.”  


The problem is that the document was written in Italian.  It should be written in Latin.  Latin is a very direct language with very few opportunities for “slang” or colloquialism. 

Here is the updated version:

Introduction

Part I

Listening: the context and challenges to the family

The socio-cultural context

The relevance of emotional life

Pastoral challenges

Part II

The gaze on Christ: the Gospel of the Family

The gaze on Jesus and gradualness in the history of salvation

The family in God’s salvific plan

The discernment of values present in wounded families and irregular situations

Truth and beauty of the family and mercy

Part III

Facing the situation: pastoral perspectives

Proclaiming the Gospel of the family today, in various contexts

Guiding engaged couples in their preparation for marriage

Accompanying the Married Couple in the Initial Years of Marriage

Positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation

Caring for broken families (separated couples, the divorced who have not remarried,

the divorced and remarried)

Providing for homosexual persons

The transmission of life and the challenge of declining birthrate

The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelisation

Conclusion

* * *

Introduction

1. During the prayer vigil held in St Peter’s Square on 4 October 2014 in preparation for the Synod on the family, Pope Francis evoked the centrality of the experience of family in all lives, in a simple and concrete manner: “Evening falls on our assembly. It is the hour at which one willingly returns home to meet at the same table, in the depth of affection, of the good that has been done and received, of the encounters which warm the heart and make it grow, good wine which hastens the unending feast in the days of man. It is also the weightiest hour for one who finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of shattered dreams and broken plans; how many people trudge through the day in the blind alley of resignation, of abandonment, even resentment: in how many homes the wine of joy has been less plentiful, and therefore, also the zest — the very wisdom — for life […]. Let us make our prayer heard for one another this evening, a prayer for all”.

2. The source of joys and trials, of deep affections and relations – at times wounded – the family is truly a “school of humanity” (“Familia schola quaedam uberioris humanitatis est”, Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, 52), of which we are in great need. Despite the many signs of crisis in the institution of the family in various contexts of the “global village”, the desire for family remains alive, especially among the young, and is at the root of the Church’s need to proclaim tirelessly and with profound conviction the “Gospel of the family” entrusted to her with the revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

3. The Bishop of Rome called upon the Synod of Bishops to reflect upon the situation of the family, decisive and valuable, in its Extraordinary General Assembly of October 2014, a reflection which will then be pursued in greater depth in the Ordinary General Assembly scheduled to take place in October 2015, as well as during the full intervening year between the two synodal events. “The convenire in unum around the Bishop of Rome is already an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is made manifest in a path of spiritual and pastoral discernment”: thus Pope Francis described the synodal experience, indicating its tasks in the dual process of listening to the signs of God and the history of mankind and in the resulting dual and unique fidelity.

4. In the light of the same discourse we have gathered together the results of our reflections and our dialogues in the following three parts: listening, to look at the situation of the family today, in the complexity of its light and shade; looking, our gaze fixed on Christ, to re-evaluate with renewed freshness and enthusiasm what the revelation transmitted in the faith of the Church tells us about the beauty and dignity of the family; and discussion in the light of the Lord Jesus to discern the ways in which the Church and society can renew their commitment to the family.

Part I

Listening: the context and challenges to the family

The socio-cultural context

5. Anthropological and cultural change today influences all aspects of life and requires an analytic and diversified approach, able to discern the positive forms of individual freedom. It is necessary to be aware of the growing danger represented by an exasperated individualism that distorts family bonds and ends up considering each component of the family as an isolated unit, leading in some cases to the prevalence of an idea of the subject formed according to his or her own wishes, which are assumed as absolute.

6. The most difficult test for families in our time is often solitude, which destroys and gives rise to a general sensation of impotence in relation to the socio-economic situation that often ends up crushing them. This is due to growing precariousness in the workplace that is often experienced as a nightmare, or due to heavy taxation that certainly does not encourage young people to marriage.

7. Some cultural and religious contexts pose particular challenges. In African societies the practice of polygamy remains, along with, in some traditional contexts, the custom of “marriage in stages”. In other contexts the practice of “arranged marriages” persists. In countries in which Catholicism is a minority religion, there are many mixed marriages with all the difficulties that these may lead to in terms of legal form, the education of children and mutual respect from the point of view of religious freedom, but also with the great potential that derives from the encounter between the differences in faith that these stories of family life present. In many contexts, and not only in the West, the practice of cohabitation before marriage, or indeed cohabitation not orientated towards assuming the form of an institutional bond, is increasingly widespread.

8. Many children are born outside marriage, especially in certain countries, and there are many who subsequently grow up with just one of their parents or in an enlarged or reconstituted family context. The number of divorces is growing and it is not rare to encounter cases in which decisions are taken solely on the basis of economic factors. The condition of women still needs to be defended and promoted, as situations of violence within the family are not rare. Children are frequently the object of contention between parents, and are the true victims of family breakdown. Societies riven by violence due to war, terrorism or the presence of organized crime experience deteriorating family situations. Furthermore, migration is another sign of the times, to be faced and understood in terms of the burden of consequences for family life.

The relevance of emotional life

9. Faced with the social framework outlined above, a greater need is encountered among individuals to take care of themselves, to know their inner being, and to live in greater harmony with their emotions and sentiments, seeking a relational quality in emotional life. In the same way, it is possible to encounter a widespread desire for family accompanied by the search for oneself. But how can this attention to the care for oneself be cultivated and maintained, alongside this desire for family? This is a great challenge for the Church too. The danger of individualism and the risk of living selfishly are significant.

10. Today’s world appears to promote limitless affectivity, seeking to explore all its aspects, including the most complex. Indeed, the question of emotional fragility is very current: a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity do not always help greater maturity to be reached. In this context, couples are often uncertain and hesitant, struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of emotional and sexual life. The crisis in the couple destabilizes the family and may lead, through separations and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening the individual and social bonds. The decline in population not only creates a situation in which the alternation of generations is no longer assured, but over time also risks leading to economic impoverishment and a loss of hope in the future.

Pastoral challenges

11. In this context the Church is aware of the need to offer a meaningful word of hope. It is necessary to set out from the conviction that man comes from God and that, therefore, a reflection able to reframe the great questions on the meaning of human existence, may find fertile ground in humanity’s most profound expectations. The great values of marriage and the Christian family correspond to the search that distinguishes human existence even in a time marked by individualism and hedonism. It is necessary to accept people in their concrete being, to know how to support their search, to encourage the wish for God and the will to feel fully part of the Church, also on the part of those who have experienced failure or find themselves in the most diverse situations. This requires that the doctrine of the faith, the basic content of which should be made increasingly better known, be proposed alongside with mercy.

PART II

The gaze upon Christ: the Gospel of the Family

The gaze upon Jesus and gradualness in the history of salvation

12. In order to “walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ, to pause in contemplation and in adoration of His Face. … Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed of possibilities open up” (Pope Francis, Address of 4 October 2014). Jesus looked upon the women and the men he met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God.

13. From the moment that the order of creation is determined by orientation towards Christ, it becomes necessary to distinguish without separating the various levels through which God communicates the grace of the covenant to humanity. Through the law of gradualness (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), typical of divine pedagogy, this means interpreting the nuptial covenant in terms of continuity and novelty, in the order of creation and in that of redemption.

14. Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19,8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross.

The family in God’s salvific plan

15. Since, by their commitment to mutual acceptance and with the grace of Christ couples promise fidelity to one another and openness to life, they acknowledge as constitutive elements of marriage the gifts God offers them, taking their mutual responsability seriously, in His name and before the Church. Now, in faith it is possible to assume the goods of marriage as commitments best maintained with the help of the grace of the sacrament. God consecrates love between spouses and confirms its indissolubility, offering them help in living in fidelity and openness to life. Therefore, the gaze of the Church turns not only to the couple, but to the family.

16. We are able to distinguish three fundamental phases in the divine plan for the family: the family of origins, when God the creator instituted the primordial marriage between Adam and Eve, as a solid foundation for the family: he created them male and female (cg. Gn 1,24-31; 2,4b); the historic family, wounded by sin (cf. Gn 3) and the family redeemed by Christ (cf. Eph 5,21-32), in the image of the Holy Trinity, the mystery from which every true love springs. The sponsal covenant, inaugurated in creation and revealed in the history of God and Israel, reaches its fullest expression with Christ in the Church.

The discernment of values present in wounded families and in irregular situations

17. In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).

18. In this light, the value and consistency of natural marriage must first be emphasized. Some ask whether the sacramental fullness of marriage does not exclude the possibility of recognizing positive elements even the imperfect forms that may be found outside this nuptial situation, which are in any case ordered in relation to it. The doctrine of levels of communion, formulated by Vatican Council II, confirms the vision of a structured way of participating in the Mysterium Ecclesiae by baptized persons.

19. In the same, perspective, that we may consider inclusive, the Council opens up the horizon for appreciating the positive elements present in other religions (cf. Nostra Aetate, 2) and cultures, despite their limits and their insufficiencies (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 55). Indeed, looking at the human wisdom present in these, the Church learns how the family is universally considered as the necessary and fruitful form of human cohabitation. In this sense, the order of creation, in which the Christian vision of the family is rooted, unfolds historically, in different cultural and geographical expressions.

20. Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.

Truth and beauty of the family and mercy

21. The Gospel of the family, while it shines in the witness of many families who live coherently their fidelity to the sacrament, with their mature fruits of authentic daily sanctity must also nurture those seeds that are yet to mature, and must care for those trees that have dried up and wish not to be neglected.

22. In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

23. Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.

Part III

Facing the situation: pastoral perspectives

Proclaiming the Gospel of the family today, in various contexts

24. Discussion at the synod has allowed for agreement on some of the more urgent pastoral needs to be enacted in the particular Churches, in communion cum Petro et sub Petro.

25. Proclaiming the Gospel of the Family is urgently needed in the work of evangelization. The Church has to carry this out with the tenderness of a mother and the clarity of a teacher (cf. Eph 4: 15), in faithfulness to the mercy displayed in Christ’s kenosis. Truth became flesh in human weakness, not to condemn it but to heal it.

26. Evangelizing is the shared responsibility of all God’s people, each according to his or her […] ministry and charism. Without the joyous testimony of married people and families, proclamation, even if correct, risks being misunderstood or submerged by a flurry of words which is characteristic of our societies (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 50). On various occasions, the synod fathers emphasized that Catholic families are called upon [..] to be the active agents in every pastoral activity on behalf of the family.

27. The primacy of grace needs to be highlighted and, consequently, the possibilities which the Spirit provides in the Sacrament. It is a question of allowing people to experience that the Gospel of the Family is a joy which “fills hearts and lives”, because in Christ we are “set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness” (Evangelii Gaudium, 1). Bearing in mind the Parable of the Sower (cf. Mt 13; 3), our task is to cooperate in the sowing; the rest is God’s work. We must not forget that, in preaching about the family, the Church is a sign of contradiction.

28. Consequently, this calls for missionary conversion, that is, not to stop at proclaiming a message which is merely theoretical with no connection to people’s real problems. We must continually bear in mind that the crisis of faith has led to a crisis in marriage and the family and, consequently, the transmission of faith from parents to children has often been interrupted. If we confront the situation with a strong faith, the imposition of certain cultural perspectives that weaken the family is of no importance.

29. Conversion has primarily to be seen in the language we use so that it might prove to be effectively meaningful. Proclamation needs to create an experience where the Gospel of the Family responds to the deepest expectations of a person: a response to each’s dignity and complete fulfillment in reciprocity and communion. This does not consists in merely presenting a set of rules but espousing values, which respond to the needs of those who find themselves today, even in the most secularized countries.

30. In this regard, biblical-theological study is indispensable, accompanied by dialogue at all levels. Many insisted on a more positive approach to the richness of various religious experiences, without forgetting the inherent difficulties. In different cultural settings the possibilities need to be first understood and in the light of these, limits and extremes should be rejected.

31. Christian marriage cannot only be considered as a cultural tradition or a social obligation but rather a vocational decision taken with due preparation in a faith-journey and with a proper process of discernment. It is not a matter of creating difficulties and complicating the various phases of formation but examining the issue thoroughly and not being content with theoretical meetings or general orientations.

32. Everyone was in agreement on the necessity of reconsidering all pastoral practices with the family in mind and overcoming its customary emphasis on the individual. For this reason, the synod fathers repeatedly insisted on renewal in the training of priests and other pastoral workers through a greater involvement of families.

33. They equally highlighted the fact that evangelization needs clearly to denounce cultural, social and economic factors, for example, the excessive importance given to market logic which prevents […] authentic family life and leads to discrimination, poverty, exclusion, and violence. Consequently, dialogue and cooperation need to be developed with the social entities and encouragement given to lay people who are involved in cultural and socio-political fields.

Guiding engaged couples in their preparation for marriage

34. The complex social reality and the changes affecting the family today require a greater effort on the part of the whole Christian community in the preparation of those who are about to be married. In this regard, the synod fathers jointly insisted on the need to involve more extensively the entire community by favouring the witness of families themselves and including preparation for marriage in the course of Christian initiation as well as emphasizing the connection between marriage and the other sacraments. Likewise, they felt that specific programmes were needed in preparing couples for marriage, programmes which create a true experience of participation in ecclesial life and thoroughly treat the various aspects of family life.

Accompanying the Married Couple in the Initial Years of Marriage

35. The initial years of marriage are a vital and fragile period during which couples become more aware of the challenges and meaning of married life. Consequently, pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament. In this regard, experienced couples are of great importance in any pastoral activity. The parish is […] the ideal place for these experienced couples to be of service to younger couples. Married couples need encouragement in the fundamental openness to the great gift of children. The importance of a family spirituality and prayer needs emphasis, where couples are encouraged to meet regularly to promote growth in their spiritual life and solidarity in the concrete demands of life. Meaningful liturgies, devotional practices and the Eucharist celebrated for families were mentioned as vital factors in fostering evangelization through the family.

Positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation

36. A new element in today’s pastoral activity is a sensitivity to the positive aspects of civilly celebrated marriages and, with obvious differences, cohabitation. While clearly presenting the ideal, the Church needs also to indicate the constructive elements in these situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to that ideal.

37. The synod fathers also noted in many countries “an increasing number live together ad experimentum, in unions which have not been religiously or civilly recognized” (Instrumentum Laboris, 81). In Africa this occurs especially in traditional marriages which are arranged between families and often celebrated in different stages. Faced with these situations, the Church is called […] to be “the house of the Father, with doors always wide open […] where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems” (Evangelii Gaudium, 47) and to draw near those who want to resume their faith-journey, even if it is not possible to celebrate a canonically recognized marriage.

38. In the West […] an increasingly large number of people, after living together for a long period of time, seek marriage in the Church. Simply to live together is often a choice based on a overall attitude, opposed to anything institutional and definitive, but also in expectation of a more secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries de facto marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values concerning the family and matrimony but primarily because celebrating a marriage is too expensive. As a result, material poverty leads people into de facto unions. Furthermore, such unions can display authentic family values or at least an inherent desire for them. Pastoral guidance should always start from these positive aspects.

39. All these situations require a constructive response, seeking to transform them into opportunities which can lead to an actual marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel. These couples need to be provided for and guided patiently and discreetly. With this in mind, the witness of authentic Christian families is particularly appealing and important as agents in the evangelization of the family.

Caring for broken families (the separated, the divorced who have not remarried, the divorced who have remarried)

40. Particularly evident at the Synod was the necessity for courageous pastoral choices. Strongly reconfirming faithfulness to the Gospel of the Family, the synod fathers felt the urgent need to embark on a new pastoral course based on the present reality of weaknesses within the family, recognizing that couples, more often than not, are more “enduring” situations than freely choosing them. These […] situations vary because of personal, […] cultural and socio-economic factors. To apply a single solution for all or one based on a logic of “all or nothing” is not wise. Dialogue and discussion at the Synod is to continue in the local Churches […] among their various components in such a way that the arrived at positions might be fully developed in the work of the approaching Ordinary General Assembly. The guidance of the Holy Spirit, constantly invoked, will permit all God’s people to be faithful to the Gospel of the Family as merciful agents in caring for all situations of human weakness.

41. Every broken family should, above all, be heard with respect and love and be accompanied on their journey as Christ accompanied the disciples of the road to Emmaus. In a particular way, the words of Pope Francis apply in these situations: “The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this ‘art of accompaniment’, which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Es 3: 5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting a closeness and compassion which, at the same time, heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life” (Evangelii Gaudium, 169).

42. This discernment is indispensable for the separated and divorced. Respect needs to be primarily given to the suffering of those who have endured separation and divorce unjustly. To forgive such an injustice is not easy, but grace makes this journey possible. At the same time, the synod fathers emphasized the necessity of addressing, in a faithful and constructive fashion, the consequences of separation or divorce on children, who must not become an “object” of contention. Instead, every suitable means ought to be sought to ensure that they overcome the trauma of a family break-up and grow as peacefully as possible.

43. Various synod fathers emphasized the need to make annulment cases more accessible and less time-consuming. They proposed, among others, the dispensation of the requirement of second instance for confirming sentences; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop; and a simple process to be used in cases where nullity is clearly evident. According to authoritative proposals, the question of the faith of the persons to be married should be possibly examined in considering the validity of the Sacrament of Marriage. In all these cases, ascertaining the truth about the validity of the bond is uppermost.

44. Many synod fathers requested the streamlining of the procedure of marriage cases as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of persons — clerics and lay people — entirely dedicated to this work. This will require the increased responsibility of the diocesan bishop, who could designate in his diocese a specially trained priest who would be able to offer advice to the concerned parties on the validity of their marriage.

45. Divorced people who have not remarried should be invited to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their present state of life. The local community and pastors ought to accompany these people with solicitude, particularly when children are involved or when in serious financial difficulty.

46. Likewise, those who are divorced and remarried require careful discernment and an accompaniment of great respect, while avoiding any language or behavior which might be construed as discrimination. Caring for such persons by the Christian community is not a weakening of its faith and its witness to the indissolubility of marriage, but, in this manner, the community precisely expresses its charity.

47. As to the possibility of partaking of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some synod fathers argued in favour of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, while others were in favour of a broader outlook with well-defined conditions, when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, access to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice — determined by the diocesan bishop — and a clear commitment in favour of the children. This would not be a possibility applied to all, but the fruit of a discernment […] on a case-by-case basis, according to the law of gradualness, which takes into consideration the distinction between a state of sin, the state of grace and […] extenuating circumstances.

48. The suggestion of limiting these persons to the practice of “spiritual communion” was questioned by many synod fathers. If spiritual communion is possible, why not allow them to partake in the Sacrament? Consequently, greater theological study was requested, beginning with the links between the Sacrament of Marriage and the Eucharist in relation to […] Church-Sacrament. Likewise, the moral aspect of the problem requires further consideration, listening to and illuminating the consciences of these persons.

49. The problems relative to mixed marriages were frequently raised in the interventions of the synod fathers. The differences in the matrimonial regulations of the Orthodox Churches creates serious problems in certain contexts which require suitable responses in communion with the Pope. The same applies to inter-religious marriages.

Providing for homosexual persons

50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing […] them […] a place of fellowship in our communities? Oftentimes, they want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

51. The question of homosexuality requires serious reflection on how to devise realistic approaches to affective growth, human development and maturation in the Gospel, while integrating the sexual aspect, all of which constitute an important educative challenge. Moreover, the Church affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that the pastor’s outlook be pressured or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations based on gender ideology.

52. Without denying the moral problems associated with homosexual unions, there are instances where mutual assistance to the point of sacrifice is a valuable support in the life of these persons. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to […] children who live with same-sex couples and stresses that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

The transmission of life and the challenge of the declining birthrate

53. Today, the diffusion of a mentality which reduces the generation of life to accommodate an individual’s or couple’s plans is easily observable. Sometimes, economic factors are burdensome, contributing to a sharp drop in the birthrate which weakens the social fabric, thus compromising relations between generations and rendering a future outlook less certain. Openness to life is an intrinsic requirement of married love.

54. Realistic language is probably also needed in this instance, language which knows how to start by listening to people and acknowledging the beauty and truth of an unconditional openness to life as that which human life needs to live life fully. This serves as the basis for an appropriate teaching regarding the natural methods of human reproduction, which allow a couple to live in a harmonious and conscious manner the communication between husband and wife, in all its aspects, along with their responsibility at procreating life. In this regard, we should return to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI, which highlights the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of regulating births.

55. Affectivity needs assistance, also in marriage, as a path to maturity in the ever deepening acceptance of the other and an ever-fuller gift of self. This necessitates offering programmes of formation which nourish married life and the importance of the laity providing an accompaniment consisting of a lived testimony. Undoubtedly, the example of the faithful is of great assistance, as well as their profound love shown in their tenderness, and respect which is capable of growing over time and, in opening itself to the generation of life, creates an experience of a mystery that transcends us.

The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelisation

56. The fundamental challenge facing families today is undoubtedly that of raising children, rendered more difficult and complex by today’s cultural reality. Consideration, then, needs to be given to the needs and expectations of families who are capable of bearing witness in their daily lives and in places of growth and the concrete and essential transmission of the virtues, which gives form to our existence.

57. In this regard, the Church can assume a valuable role in supporting families, starting with Christian initiation and being welcoming communities. More than ever, these communities today are to offer support to parents, in complex situations and everyday life, in their work of raising their children, accompanying children, adolescents and young people in their development through personalized pastoral programmes capable of introducing them to the full meaning of life and encouraging them in their choices and responsibilities lived in the light of the Gospel.

Conclusion

58. These proposed reflections, the fruit of synodal discussion which took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate outlooks that will later be developed and clarified by […] reflection in the local Churches in the intervening year leading to the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled for October, 2015. These are not decisions taken nor simply various points of view. Nevertheless, the collegial journey of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will guide us in finding the road to truth and mercy for all. This has been the wish of Pope Francis from the beginning of our work, inviting us to exercise the courage of faith and humbly and honestly embrace the truth in charity.

Source:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/10/16/full-text-updated-mid-term-report-on-family-synod/#.VENk6OMKAnE.twitter

Source:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/how-an-incorrect-translation-of-the-synod-report-created-chaos-24767/#.VD84xh_eA00.twitter

http://news.yahoo.com/vatican-alters-draft-report-translation-gays-132855337.html

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/10/16/Conservative-bishops-angered-by-outreach-report/9441413475602/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/16/catholic-gays-welcome_n_5997966.html?cps=gravity

**************************************************************************

**UPDATE:  October 18, 2014


After much worrying, panicking etc, Pope Francis delivered an amazing closing that was returned with a four minute standing ovation from the cardinals, bishops and lay people present.


Here is the speech:


Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,


With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.


From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.


I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!


I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:


  – One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.


  – The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”


  – The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).


  – The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.


  – The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…


Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.


Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parrhesia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).


And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.


The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.


Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.


And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.


We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of   their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.


His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it… that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”


So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).


Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.


One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].


May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!


[The Te Deum was sung, and Benediction given.]


Thank you, and rest well, eh?


Source:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-closing-synod-speech-received-with-standing-ovation-92979/


http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-speech-at-the-conclusion-of-the-synod



This Synod has a lot of drama, especially with Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Kaspar who were verbally boxing with each other via interviews. Cardinal Burke showed his concern that Catholic teaching would be undermined while Cardinal Kaspar feels the teachings can “evolve” and reach out more to the Catholic world that it is doing now. 


Moreover, Cardinal Burke felt the need to call out Pope Francis for not speaking out and reaffirming the faith despite the Synod’s purpose of having bishops discuss as the Pope listens. Pope Francis wanted the bishops to speak frankly and discuss. Had he intervened, then they would not have spoken out on certain issues according to Cardinal Gracias. 


There was much speculation on the poorly translated draft of the Relatio released on Monday.  The media wanted to see if the tone on homosexuality did change as the draft suggested which had the Catholic world up in arms crying out betrayal. Cardinal Ravasi said that the final report will be “very rich” and will focus on the family, no so much on homosexuality.  


The messaged released today did not mention homosexuality at all which showed that the bishops were aware of the uproar the release of the draft on Monday caused.  


Here is the message:



Synod14 – Message of the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops , 18.10.2014


[B0768]


III EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY


OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS


MESSAGE


            We, Synod Fathers, gathered in Rome together with Pope Francis in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, greet all families of the different continents and in particular all who follow Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We admire and are grateful for the daily witness which you offer us and the world with your fidelity, faith, hope, and love.


            Each of us, pastors of the Church, grew up in a family, and we come from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences. As priests and bishops we have lived alongside families who have spoken to us and shown us the saga of their joys and their difficulties.


            The preparation for this synod assembly, beginning with the questionnaire sent to the Churches around the world, has given us the opportunity to listen to the experience of many families. Our dialogue during the Synod has been mutually enriching, helping us to look at the complex situations which face families today.


            We offer you the words of Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). On his journeys along the roads of the Holy Land, Jesus would enter village houses. He continues to pass even today along the streets of our cities. In your homes there are light and shadow. Challenges often present themselves and at times even great trials. The darkness can grow deep to the point of becoming a dense shadow when evil and sin work into the heart of the family.


            We recognize the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love. Enfeebled faith and indifference to true values, individualism, impoverishment of relationships, and stress that excludes reflection leave their mark on family life. There are often crises in marriage, often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic, where the Christian choice is not obvious.


            We think also of the burden imposed by life in the suffering that can arise with a child with special needs, with grave illness, in deterioration of old age, or in the death of a loved one. We admire the fidelity of so many families who endure these trials with courage, faith, and love. They see them not as a burden inflicted on them, but as something in which they themselves give, seeing the suffering Christ in the weakness of the flesh.


            We recall the difficulties caused by economic systems, by the “the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” (Evangelii gaudium 55) which weakens the dignity of people. We remember unemployed parents who are powerless to provide basic needs for their families, and youth who see before them days of empty expectation, who are prey to drugs and crime.


            We think of so many poor families, of those who cling to boats in order to reach a shore of survival, of refugees wandering without hope in the desert, of those persecuted because of their faith and the human and spiritual values which they hold. These are stricken by the brutality of war and oppression. We remember the women who suffer violence and exploitation, victims of human trafficking, children abused by those who ought to have protected them and fostered their development, and the members of so many families who have been degraded and burdened with difficulties. “The culture of prosperity deadens us…. all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us” (Evangelii gaudium 54). We call on governments and international organizations to promote the rights of the family for the common good.


            Christ wanted his Church to be a house with doors always open to welcome everyone. We warmly thank our pastors, lay faithful, and communities who accompany couples and families and care for their wounds.


***


            There is also the evening light behind the windowpanes in the houses of the cities, in modest residences of suburbs and villages, and even in mere shacks, which shines out brightly, warming bodies and souls. This light—the light of a wedding story—shines from the encounter between spouses: it is a gift, a grace expressed, as the Book of Genesis says (2:18), when the two are “face to face” as equal and mutual helpers. The love of man and woman teaches us that each needs the other in order to be truly self. Each remains different from the other that opens self and is revealed in the reciprocal gift. It is this that the bride of the Song of Songs sings in her canticle: “My beloved is mine and I am his… I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 2:16; 6:3).


            This authentic encounter begins with courtship, a time of waiting and preparation. It is realized in the sacrament where God sets his seal, his presence, and grace. This path also includes sexual relationship, tenderness, intimacy, and beauty capable of lasting longer than the vigor and freshness of youth. Such love, of its nature, strives to be forever to the point of laying down one’s life for the beloved (cf Jn 15:13). In this light conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.


This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education. It includes the capacity to offer life, affection, and values—an experience possible even for those who have not been able to bear children. Families who live this light-filled adventure become a sign for all, especially for young people.


            This journey is sometimes a mountainous trek with hardships and falls. God is always there to accompany us. The family experiences his presence in affection and dialogue between husband and wife, parents and children, sisters and brothers. They embrace him in family prayer and listening to the Word of God—a small, daily oasis of the spirit. They discover him every day as they educate their children in the faith and in the beauty of a life lived according to the Gospel, a life of holiness. Grandparents also share in this task with great affection and dedication. The family is thus an authentic domestic Church that expands to become the family of families which is the ecclesial community. Christian spouses are called to become teachers of faith and of love for young couples as well.


            Another expression of fraternal communion is charity, giving, nearness to those who are last, marginalized, poor, lonely, sick, strangers, and families in crisis, aware of the Lord’s word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). It is a gift of goods, of fellowship, of love and mercy, and also a witness to the truth, to light, and to the meaning of life.


            The high point which sums up all the threads of communion with God and neighbor is the Sunday Eucharist when the family and the whole Church sits at table with the Lord. He gives himself to all of us, pilgrims through history towards the goal of the final encounter when “Christ is all and in all” (Col 3:11). In the first stage of our Synod itinerary, therefore, we have reflected on how to accompany those who have been divorced and remarried and on their participation in the sacraments.


            We Synod Fathers ask you walk with us towards the next Synod. The presence of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their modest home hovers over you. United to the Family of Nazareth, we raise to the Father of all our petition for the families of the world:


            Father, grant to all families the presence of strong and wise spouses who may be the source of a free and united family.


            Father, grant that parents may have a home in which to live in peace with their families.


            Father, grant that children may be a sign of trust and hope and that young people may have the courage to forge life-long, faithful commitments.


            Father, grant to all that they may be able to earn bread with their hands, that they may enjoy serenity of spirit and that they may keep aflame the torch of faith even in periods of darkness.


            Father, grant that we may all see flourish a Church that is ever more faithful and credible, a just and humane city, a world that loves truth, justice and mercy.



[03043-02.01] [Original text: Italian]


[B0768-XX.01]


Source:

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/18/0768/03043.html



Basically, the tone of the Synod was to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” The Church is called to welcome all but remind them to “sin no more.”  The report is still a work in progress.  However, many things will not be included.  

  


Here are some tweets in real time of the press conference:

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