Final report was made by the Drafting Committee Chair: Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop, ESZTERGOM – BUCHAREST
MEMBERS: Card. Lorenzo Baldissari, Synod’s Sec. General
Card. Oswald Gracias, Bombay, India
Card. Donald Wurl, Washington, D.C.
Card. John Dew, Wellington, New Zealand
Archbishop Bruno Forte, Chieti-Vasta, Italy
Archbishop Manuel Fernandez, Titular Archbishop of Tiburnia (Austria), Rector, Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.
Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouaken (Gabon, Africa)
Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, S.J., Superior General, Jesuits.
Voting delegates – 279. Experts – 90. Auditors: a) married couples – 17; individuals – 17. (13 of the 17 individuals are women, including 3 nuns).
Report has three parts:
Part I : “The Church Listening to the Family” (nn. 1-34)
Part II : “The Family in God’s Plan” (nn. 35-55)
Part III : “The Mission of the Family” (nn. 56-94)
Theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in Contemporary World.”
It is not yet authoritative. We wait for Pope Francis’ “DOCUMENT”
- Marriage is between male and female. Unity and indissolubility are the characteristics of a marriage in the Catholic Church.
- Jesus was sent by the Father to a family.
- Three fold approach of the Synod:
(1) assessing the current situation of the family from the vantage point of faith; (situation)
(2) looking to Christ’s revelation; (Theological Reflection)
(3) discerning through the Holy Spirit. What to do to renew commitment to the family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman (Pastoral Action)
- Marriage is an interpersonal, loving relationship which transmits life.
- Socio-cultural context: Exaggerated individualism. Strong family ties. Expanded family: grandparents, relatives.
- Religious context. Christian faith is strong and alive. Adverse effects of unjust world economic order, situation and radical extremism, fanaticism.
- Anthropological change – sense of belonging – an important value – young people resist definitive commitments in relationships, often choose to live together or simply to engage in casual relationships. Declining birth rate is a result of: industrialization, sexual revolution, fear of overpopulation, economic problems, contraceptive mentality and abortion. Consumerism may also deter people from having children. Number of marriages, worldwide, is declining, while separations and divorce are common.
- Cultural contradictions. On one hand, marriage and the family are held in high esteem… On the other hand, the concept of the family is marred by excessive expectations and, consequently, exaggerated claims on each other. Overly individualistic culture which concentrates on possessing and gratification leads to intolerance and aggression in families. Feminism which looks on motherhood as exploiting women; tendency to conceive a child simply as a means of self-affirmation.
Important challenge is “gender” ideology which denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and woman and envisages a society without gender differences (same sex, one sex).
- Conflicts and social tensions. Proliferation of conflicts, impoverishment and migrations. Violent religious persecution. Dependence on alcohol, drugs or gambling. Accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few and misuse of resources.
- Fragility and strength of family. Weak but resilient strength: capacity to love.
11-16. The family, irreplaceable resource of society. Transmission of values. Safeguarding inter-generational ties (11). Government to support families (12) Loneliness and insecurity (13). Economy of growth – inclusive (14). Poverty and exclusion. At the margins: immigrants, gypsies, homeless, displaced, refugees, untouchables (India) diseases that carry social stigma (15). Ecology and the family. Family, part of human ecology, to be protected (16).
Chapter III – Family, Inclusion and Society, nn. 17-29. Elderly (17, 18).
Widowhood (19). Last stages in life and loss in the family. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are serious threats to families (21). Persons with special needs (PWD) tobe helped (21). Persons who are unmarried who do volunteer work enrich the families and Church (22). Migrants, refugees and persecuted need special pastoral attention (23). Assistance to refugees lies first with the local Church (24). Unique challenges: polygamy, arranged marriages, mixed marriages (between Catholic & baptized non Catholic) and marriages of disparity of cult (Catholic & non-baptized). Secularism diminishes any reference to God (26). Children are blessings from God. How, some areas consider children as real commodity to be sold, or used as cheap labor. Children in war zones. Street children. All need special care (26). Women – Status varies. Dignity of women to be defended and promoted. No to exploitation of women. Unequal treatment of women is against God’s will (27). Men. Protect and support wife and children. St. Joseph is the model (28). Young people. Have varying attitudes with regard to marriage. Good families to serve as inspiration and model (29).
Chapter IV – Family, affectivity, and Life (30-34).
Importance of affective life. Give and receive love. Church to assist couples in the maturation of the emotional aspect of their relationshipthrough fostering of dialogue (30). Formation in self-giving through Bible and Church’s teachings – highlighting formation in chastity (31). Weakness and immaturity, a sexuality without limit. Narcissistic (self-love), unstable and changing affectivity are obstacles to greater maturity – which is other-oriented…Pornography and commercialization of the body (prostitution) to be avoided (32). Technologies in human procreation manipulate the reproductive act, making it independent of the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God. (33).
Partial challenge. “Take into account the diversity of real-life situations. Form young people for marriage, accompany those who live alone, or without forming a new family. Couples who cannot have children should be cared for. All is included in pastoral charity (34).
NEXT ISSUE: PART II: THE FAMILY IN GOD’S PLAN