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Synod of Bishops releases working document for October meeting

June 23, 2015

The Synod of Bishops has released the instrumentum laboris, or working document, of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in October and be devoted to “the vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” The working document followed reflection by episcopal conferences on the final document of last October’s extraordinary synod on the family. That document, the relatio synodi, was sent to the episcopal conferences, along with 46 questions, which together formed the synod’s lineamenta. The working document, released in Italian on June 23, has three parts: challenges facing the family, the vocation of the family, and the mission of the family. At a Vatican press conference, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, announced that the first week of the synod will be devoted to the first part of the instrumentum laboris, the second week to the second part, and the third week to the third part. Discussion of the synod’s more controversial issues, including the admission to Holy Communion of those who have remarried outside the Church, takes place in the third part of the working document. Quoting the relatio synodi, the working document stated that “some synod fathers maintained that divorced and remarried persons or those living together can have fruitful recourse to a spiritual communion. Others raised the question as to why, then, they cannot have access to sacramental Communion.” The working document then noted that the “journey of incorporation into Christ” is “implemented step by step through continual conversion.” Citing the teaching of St. John Paul II in his 1981 apostolic exhortation on the family, the working document suggested that those who have remarried can participate in the life of the Church in various ways, such as Mass attendance, prayer, and works of penance and justice. “The result of this participation is the communion of the believer with the whole community,” the working document stated. The working document later referred to the Orthodox practice of “pastoral condescension toward the failed marriage.”


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