Synod on families, marriage, relationships

In preparation for the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015, Pope Francis has encouraged bishops around the world to undertake wide consultation on the topic ‘The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World’.

The New Zealand Conference of Bishops invited people to add their ‘voice’ to the global discussion that began ahead of last year’s Synod. The conversation continued this year with a further online questionnaire.

Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North will represent the New Zealand Bishops at the Synod in October and spoke to Wel-Com.

To recap, what was Pope Francis’ intention in calling the first session of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome last October?

Marriage and family life are at the heart of both the Church and civic society. All cultures and societies are experiencing circumstances and influences which are destabilising family life.

Pope Francis wishes us to reflect deeply on how we might strengthen marriage and family life and thus make a positive contribution to the world-wide human family.

We should not lose sight of the fact that this Synod follows the Synod on the New Evangelisation.

The fruits of the earlier Synod made us acutely aware that there is a significant percentage of Catholics who feel they no longer belong within the Church.

The current Synod’s questionnaire responses confirmed that in many instances this is because their committed relationship or their family does not fit within the parameters or language the Church usually uses to describe family.

Put simply, many Catholics and their loved ones do not recognise themselves in the language we sometimes use to define or describe ourselves.

To use terminology we usually find elsewhere, we have a large community of ‘displaced persons’, ‘refugees’, who have found acceptance outside of the Church.

Do we repeat the tired language of ‘they walked away’ or do we feel a stirring within to reimagine the ‘them’ and ‘us’ language? Continue reading

  • Bishop Charles Drennan is the bishop of the Diocese of Palmerston North, New Zealand.
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