The ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will meet October 4-25, 2015 on the timely topic of “the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” This article provides an overview of the final report from the 2014 extraordinary synod, as a way to prepare our readers for this important upcoming event in the life of the Church.
The Catholic Church is now entering the final phase of the official work of the synod on Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization, and the synod fathers have committed themselves to continuing down “the path of renewal” outlined in their reflections[i] published in the Relatio Synodi at the conclusion of their meetings in October, 2014.[ii] As we anticipate the various practical programs and initiatives that will be explored as the synod continues, it is worth recalling the Relatio of the synod in order to get a better sense of what all authentic pastoral programs must strive for and how their success must be measured.
While many in the media sought to portray the meetings among the synod fathers as a clash between divergent approaches to so-called “hot-button issues” like contraception, divorce, and homosexual unions, the official document from the synod fathers offers a much different view. The Relatio of the synod reads like a spiritual call-to-arms, urging all those engaged in pastoral care and evangelization to confront the many threats to marriage and family life and to gaze upon Christ in order to bring his grace and mercy to all those endangered by the current crisis.