Catholics looking to the Synod for a touch of reality

In the mid 1990s my husband and I lived together before we were married.

In the interest of family peace we kept our living arrangement secret from my devoutly Catholic grandparents who would not have approved.

I wonder what my grandparents, who died a few years ago, would have thought about Pope Francis’ decision last month to marry 20 couples, many of whom had been “living in sin”.

One couple even had children before marriage.

Unthinkable for Catholics of my grandparents’ generation.

Today, many Catholics in Australia and elsewhere reject Catholic teaching in their family life: they have sex outside of marriage, use artificial contraception and get divorced.

Some Catholics – holy and devout – are gay and lesbian and live in same-sex families.

Pope Francis seems to get this.

He’s gone out of his way to make the point that the Church needs to stop legalistically obsessing about marriage and sex and instead focus on welcoming and supporting people who love one another authentically.

However, I’m not so sure the Vatican bureaucracy or the rest of the Church hierarchy agrees.

The Vatican is organising a Synod on the Family to be held from this Sunday.

A Synod is a worldwide gathering of bishops convened to consider how the Church should respond to emerging challenges.

Pope Francis provided the Synod on the Family with a promising start by conducting a global survey to ask Catholics what they thought about Church teaching regarding families.

Many Catholics told the Pope that the Church’s rules had little relevance to their lives or said the Church’s positions were alienating and harmful to their family.

In light of Pope Francis’ actions and the results of the survey, one might think the Synod is an excellent opportunity for Catholic bishops to acknowledge that a group of celibate, ordained, older men is not the font of all wisdom when it comes to sex, families and relationships. Continue reading

Kristina Keneally is a former NSW premier. She is a practicing Catholic, wife and mother.

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