The ‘ordinary’ synod on “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World” will start on 4th October, 2015. Bishops are currently being circulated with a summary of the 2014 synod, together with some 46 questions which should be a basis of discussion not only among bishops but by the faithful in general. Presumably the bishops will be preparing documents to reflect some or all of these questions, and, we may hope, will circulate them in a convenient, professional, format.
This will lead, in time, to the working document (Instrumentum Laboris) for the coming synod.
We need, I think, to study and discuss the various key issues. So I have taken some of these from the material already available. Those who would like to know more about the material given to the bishops, should visit: http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/vatican-asks-wide-input-2015-synod-not-based-doctrine
“Is the Christian community in a position to undertake the care of all wounded families so that they can experience the Father’s mercy? How does the Christian community engage in removing the social and economic factors that often determine this situation? What steps have been taken and what can be done to increase this activity and the sense of mission which sustains it?
“The Pastors at the Synod asked themselves — in an open and courageous manner but not without concern and caution — how the Church is to regard Catholics who are united in a civil bond, those who simply live together and those who, after a valid marriage, are divorced and remarried civilly.”
“With regard to the divorced and remarried, pastoral practice concerning the sacraments needs to be further studied, including assessment of the Orthodox practice and taking into account ‘the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances. What is possible? What suggestions can be offered to resolve forms of undue or unnecessary impediments?”
“The pastoral care of persons with homosexual tendencies poses new challenges today, due to the manner in which their rights are proposed in society,” How can the Christian community give pastoral attention to families with persons with homosexual tendencies? What are the responses that, in light of cultural sensitivities, are considered to be most appropriate?
“What are the most significant steps that have been taken to announce and effectively promote the beauty and dignity of becoming a mother or father, in light, for example, of Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI? How can dialogue be promoted with sciences and biomedical technologies in a way that respects the human ecology of reproduction?”
“What initiatives in catechesis can be developed and fostered to make known and offer assistance to persons in living the Church’s teaching on the family, above all in surmounting any possible discrepancy between what is lived and what is professed and in leading to a process of conversion? What is being done to demonstrate the greatness and beauty of the gift of indissolubility so as to prompt a desire to live it and strengthen it more and more?”
“How can people be made to understand that Christian marriage corresponds to the original plan of God and, thus, one of fulfilment and not confinement?”
We have often complained that the faithful are not consulted on matters which concern them intimately. So how are we going to respond?