Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pope and secretariat of synod set to work on pastoral care of the family

Vatican Insider
October 8, 2013

The Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops announced this morning that the title of the next Synod is "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation". The Synod will run from 5 to 19 October 2014 and will last two weeks, not three as it usually does.

Francis’ blue Ford Focus with the SCV 920 number plate turned up at the main offices of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops on Via della Conciliazione 34, in Rome, at 4.15 pm yesterday afternoon. No escorts, no entourage. Francis wanted to participate in person in the Secretariat’s meetings. He was back there again this morning. About a week ago the Pope appointed the Synod’s former Secretary Nicola Eterovic as Nuncio to Germany, replacing him with Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, who until then had been the Congregation for Bishops’ number two man. Baldisseri came to the Synod’s Secretariat with a clear mandate: to review the rules governing the Synod’s work, in order to make them more efficient and increase participation.

Last week the Pope’s “G8” - the eight-member Council of Cardinals whom Francis appointed to advise him on the government of the universal Church and Curia reform - began its meetings with a by discussion on the Synod. This urgently needed to be discussed as the theme of the next assembly was soon to be announced. The Pope decided that the theme of the next assembly will be "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation". Francis wants to change the way Synod meetings are held.

According to Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga there will be further consultations held also via the net. On the table at the moment is a procedure split into phases that will involve the Synod’s work continuing into the future and will seek to involve local Churches more by asking them to express themselves on the subject being discussed. After the initial meeting in Rome (this may account for the shorter duration), proposals will be shared with local Churches and then returned to Rome.

By participating in the meetings held by the General Secretariat of the Synod also attended by the “G8” , Francis has given the world yet another taste of his style of government and his ability to listen, as well as his wish to get personally involved in the daily work of the Curia’s bodies.

The Synod will be a chance to address the issue of remarried divorcees and their participation in the life of the Christian community. “The calling of an Extraordinary Synod on the pastoral care of families is key,” Fr. Lombardi said in a statement. “This is the way in which the Pope intends to develop the reflections and the path of the Catholic community, ensuring the responsible participation of the world’s bishops.”

“The Church should reflect and pray as a community and follow common pastoral paths in important areas such as the family. It should do so under the leadership of the Pope and bishops. The calling of an Extraordinary Synod clearly points towards this path. In this context, individuals or local offices would risk creating confusion by proposing specific solutions. It is crucial to highlight the importance of following a path in full communion with the Church community.”

This was clearly a reference to the recent initiative of an office of the Archdiocese of Freiburg, in Germany, which signalled a willingness to allow remarried divorcees to receive communion. Approximately 150 people (almost all presidents of Bishops’ Conferences) are taking part in the Extraordinary Synod. Half the number that usually takes part in the Ordinary Synod.

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