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Synod groups call for more Scripture references, clarity in language

October 14, 2015

In a 2nd report on small-group discussions at the Synod of Bishops, the most common themes raised were a call for a final document that is more clearly based on Scripture and “divine pedagogy,” and a demand for clarity of language.

On October 14, when the language-based groups submitted their reports, nearly every group mentioned a need for more reliance on Scripture in the 2nd part of the Synod document. The French “A” group observed that “this party is not very strongly founded on Sacred Scripture;” the English “A” group agreed that “the text would benefit from a more abundant use of Sacred Scripture.”

Several of the smaller groups said that in its final message the Synod should seek greater clarity than the bishops found in the working document, the instrumentum laboris. The French “B” group, for instance, said that “it is important that the final text should be as clear and simple as possible, to avoid the ambiguities and equivocations that might affect an understanding of the proper role of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.”

“The nowhere defines marriage,” remarked the English “D” group. “This is a serious defect. It causes ambiguity throughout the text.” The Spanish “A” group agreed: “A definition of the family is needed.”

Several of the small-group reports called for a more positive treatment of the indissolubility of marriage, and encouragement for couples doing their best to live in accordance with the Church’s teaching on sacramental marriage. The English “C” group saw a “need to speak a heartfelt word of appreciation and encouragement to couples who, by God’s grace, are living their Christian marriage as a genuine vocation, since this is a unique service to the Church and the world.” The same group also wanted “to present the indissolubility of marriage as a gift from God rather than a burden and to find a more positive way of speaking about it, so that people can fully appreciate the gift.”

Some of the small groups addressed the question of how the Synod should speak to those living in irregular marital situations. The French “C” group called for a “more unified approach,” balancing the demands of theological truth and pastoral mercy. The English “C” group, taking a new approach to an issue that has dominated public debate, suggested that the Synod should “explore further the possibility of couples who are civilly married or cohabiting beginning a journey towards sacramental marriage and being encouraged and accompanied on that journey.”


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