30 Oct Addressing a “social and spiritual crisis”
October 30, 2014
From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
While much misinformation has circulated about the Catholic Church’s “Synod on the Family,” Dawn Frandsen shares some thoughts on the process and details some of the actual outcomes of this important gathering.
We thank the Catholic Church for their strong stances on behalf of traditional marriage and family and we will watch with great interest when the “General Synod” takes place in 2015.
United Families International, President
Outcome from the Synod: Marriage is Still About Family
By Dawn Frandsen
If you have been following the recent Catholic “Synod on the Family” via CNN, BBC, the New York Times, or even your local new that pulls from the AP wire, you would have been led to believe that policies and practices in the Catholic church were shifting. Some even jubilantly dubbed it an earthquake.
If you kept up with the full two weeks of coverage, you would know by now that some disappointment is being expressed by those who were sure they were feeling the earth move. Assurance and conviction is being expressed by many others at the dial back in the final documents released concerning the Church’s stance on divorce and gay marriage.
Regardless of the hype from the news world, what cannot be disregarded is that this was a synod on the family and what factors exist that may negatively affect the family. It was not a synod on how the Church should define marriage.
One year ago, in preparation for this recently concluded Extraordinary Assembly Synod of Bishops, the Vatican sent out a worldwide request for feedback detailing challenges faced by families.
The resulting fact-finding document stated in its introductory paragraphs “the social and spiritual crisis, so evident in today’s world, is becoming a pastoral challenge in the Church’s evangelizing mission concerning the family, the vital building-block of society and the ecclesial community. Never before has proclaiming the Gospel on the Family in this context been more urgent and necessary.”
“…concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation, which does not lead to marriage, and sometimes even excludes the idea of it, to same-sex unions between persons, who are, not infrequently, permitted to adopt children. The many new situations requiring the Church’s attention and pastoral care include: mixed or inter-religious marriages; the single-parent family; polygamy; marriages with the consequent problem of a dowry, sometimes understood as the purchase price of the woman; the caste system; a culture of non-commitment and a presumption that the marriage bond can be temporary; forms of feminism hostile to the Church; migration and the reformulation of the very concept of the family; relativist pluralism in the conception of marriage; the influence of the media on popular culture in its understanding of marriage and family life; underlying trends of thought in legislative proposals which devalue the idea of permanence and faithfulness in the marriage covenant; an increase in the practice of surrogate motherhood (wombs for hire); and new interpretations of what is considered a human right.”
So while the major press outlets of the world want us all to believe that gay marriage and communion for the divorced were the most critical parts in the discussions, it is plain to see from the document sent out last year, that those topics were actually in the minority on the overall agenda and concerns.
In reality and in spite all the press reports, not much has changed.
Statements released from the Vatican concerning the discussion and crafting language of the final Relatio, among other things “express words of encouragement and support to those who are faithfully living out their marriage vows and bringing up their families according to the teaching of the Church.”
The final message released by the Synod Fathers, petitioned: “Father, grant to all families the presence of strong and wise spouses who may be the source of a free and united family; grant that parents may have a home in which to live in peace with their families; 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.” In addition the Fathers addressed the great difficulty that families face from poverty and other socio-economic barriers.
An “extraordinary” Gathering
This synod was dubbed “extraordinary” because it is a precursor to the general or “ordinary” synod scheduled to take place in 2015, where the family will again be the central topic of discussion.
And the point of the General Synod? “The Synod Report – and the Message – should direct itself towards young people, to help them understand and be attracted by the Christian vision of marriage and the family, in a world in which they are exposed to many contradictory visions. . ..”
In his closing remarks, Pope Francis reiterated that year-long time frame by asserting that “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.”
He also had some very clear and cautionary words addressed to those in the progressive movement who may insist on rapid change. He cautions anyone who, “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. [This] is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”
Similar to the lack of clear coverage on the synod, there is a dearth in the mainstream press of the fact that the “official position” of most religions on family and marriage also remains unchanged. Most major religions recognize that the prototype for the family, the one that has been designed and ordained by God, consists of a man and a woman who have chosen to create a child-centric union. And most men and women of faith recognize how important religion is to the happiness and success of their marriage and family.