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Pope calls special meeting of Synod of Bishops to address family issues

October 08, 2013

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Pope Francis has called an extraordinary meeting of the Synod of Bishops to discuss the family.

The Synod will convene in Rome in October 2104. The official theme for the assembly is: “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

Pope Francis has indicated that a strengthening of the Synod’s role is one of his top priorities. The Synod was discussed at length during his meetings last week with the Council of Cardinals; Archbishop Lorenzo Baldiserri was the only non-cardinal invited to address the meetings. On October 7, the Pope again showed his keen interest in the Synod by leaving the confines of the Vatican to attend a meeting at the offices of the Synod’s secretariat, on the Via della Conciliazione.

Pope Francis is seeking to give the Synod of Bishops a greater voice in the formation of policy for the universal Church. Proponents of reform at the Vatican have often complained that past meetings of the Synod were not conducive to genuine discussion and deliberation: that the conclusions of the Synod meetings were largely scripted in advance, to follow the lines of existing Vatican policies.

By choosing the family as the topic of the next Synod meeting, the Pope also signals the importance of addressing the crisis in family life. That message is underlined by the Pope’s call for an “extraordinary” meeting.

In announcing the October 2014 assembly, the Vatican press office noted that under the Code of Canon Law, and extraordinary meeting of the Synod is called “when the matter under consideration, while relations to the good of the universal Church, requires rapid definition.” This will be the 3rd time that the Synod has met in an extraordinary assembly, following the 1969 Synod on the role episcopal conferences and the 1985 session on the 20th anniversary of Vatican II.

The Synod will undoubtedly address the breakdown in family life in much of the developed world, and the decline in respect for the family based on marriage. The Pope has also called for discussion of how the Church should address the pastoral needs of Catholics who have divorced and remarried.


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: chady - Oct. 09, 2013 12:47 PM ET USA

    There appears to be a worrying trend for the instructions of Bishops of the Church these days to be interpreted selectively by some of the 'Faithful'. Perhaps we need to reflect on the words of St Ignatius of Antioch "you should never act independently of the bishop.. regard them as apostles of Jesus Christ our hope .. do not let pride go to your head and break away from Jesus Christ and your bishop .. nobody's conscience can be clean if he is acting without the authority of his bishop.."

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Oct. 08, 2013 9:20 PM ET USA

    Unless priests get "out of their rectories" and "onto the street" all these good intentions will amount to little more than well intentioned rhetoric. You can understand the underlying principles of the Culture of Life, Chastity and Marriage, and even the Theology of the Body inside and out but unless the priests have the discipline and spiritual toughness to apply these RELATIONALLY with their parishoners first and unbelievers second they bear little fruit.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 08, 2013 9:15 PM ET USA

    Forgive me, please, Holy Father and bishops of the world, but the pastoral need of Catholics who have divorced and remarried is to separate before they die in their sin and to reconcile with their first spouse. That is St. Paul's teaching to the Corinthians when he told them that a woman is not to leave her husband and if she does, that she is to return to him or live the rest of her life alone. He must have had the children in mind; imagine their happiness having their family back together.