Oct. 15, 2014
On Monday, October 13, 2014, Cardinal Peter Erdö provided a midway report to Synod on Marriage and Family. The meeting continues until the 18th. “The reflections put forward…are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured” before the General Synod in October 2015. “These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view (par. 58).”
I want to point out two things resulting from the report. First, the report is a ‘working paper,’ a discussion starter. The cardinal’s report summarizes issues raised by the 2013 world survey effort. His text exhorts Synod committees to continue a Gospel-based and charity-infused conversation. This should encourage all of us who participated in that survey.
Second, the main part of the report supports family life as the primary human society. It acknowledges the virtuous path that male-female married couples model for us in our parishes. At the same time, it suggests improvements in how we institutionally prepare and sustain marriages. Challenges differ according culture and geography.
The report uses language different from what many expected. Jumping off from a Vatican II paragraph that St. John Paul II co-wrote when he was a bishop (Gaudium et Spes, 22), it says, “the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings (par. 20).” This will reshape our usual conversations, but only the Holy Spirit knows where it will carry them.
We do well to remember that some preparatory documents (like this report) for the Vatican Council II and other Synods were discussion starters. Some were reworked and endorsed, others disappeared entirely. Fifty years later, there are opposing opinions, some for transparency, some for having a closed meetings. There is no certainty about how much of Monday’s report shows up in the final 2015-2016 summary.
To read the full text of the report: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/13/0751/03037.html