On Friday October 9 the Vatican released 13 initial reports from various language working groups at the Synod on the Family. These reports address part 1 of the synod’s “working document,” or “Instrumentum Laboris,” which includes the first four chapters of the document.
Next week a second batch of 13 reports relating to part 2 of the working document will be released, and the following week a third and final batch of 13 reports will be released. All of these reports will forwarded to the special commission that is drafting the synod’s final document.
Below is the first report from English working group A.
Moderator: Cardinal PELL George
Rapporteur: Archbishop KURTZ Joseph Edward
In Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, we find the source of hope for the family in the contemporary world. Thus confidence in Him is to be the first and last word of the synod. It is with eyes fixed on Jesus that we begin.
The message of the synod must announce the Good News of Jesus Christ clearly and attractively. Thus we recommend the words of Pope Francis who vividly engaged families at the Saturday Vigil for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia with the invitation: "So great was (God's) love, that He began to walk with humanity, with His people, until the right moment came, and He made the highest expression of love - His own Son. And where did He send his son - to a palace? To a city? No. He sent him to a family. God sent him amid a family. And He could do this, because it was a family that had a truly open heart!"
We discussed a proper methodology, which needs to make reference to Sacred Scripture and Tradition throughout this document as we read the signs of our times in light of the Gospel.
A great concern relates to the overly bleak description of the contemporary scene. More attention needs to be given to theological reflection on the faithful, loving married couple and family, who, so often heroically, live an authentic witness to the grace of the family. Expanding the words to explain the "Good News regarding the family," we sought to speak less of "crisis" and more of "lights and shadows."
We spoke of the vitality of many families who witness to the beauty of their family life and inspire others in their commitment to family life. Yet we also spoke of the many illusions in our contemporary world that sadly lead to a radical isolation. So too we spoke of the struggles and challenges, which are part of the shadows. How important it is to recognize and give support to these families and the power of their lived witness.
Another concern was an overly Euro-centric or Western mindset in the current wording. Rather we are called to a cultural tone that is global and that is open to the richness and real experiences of families today, in various nations and continents.
Great attention was given to the family who migrates, calling forth special generosity of communities of faith and governments to welcome the gifts of these families.
We also highlighted the attention given to persons with disabilities and special needs and their families. Of special note was the care with which both the gifts and the struggles were presented. The richness of this section might serve as a helpful paradigm for the treatment of other topics in this document.
Also deserving of special mention is the role of public policy to foster family life in a way that truly honors the natural right of families to make decisions in a way that promotes the common good.
In summary, while the challenges are only too obvious, so too must we hold up the strengths and seeds of renewal already present so families might be active agents of the Good News of Jesus.
Aware that the grace of Christ will be taken up in the areas of this document devoted to the vocation and mission of the family, we urge synod delegates to announce the hope held out by Jesus as the first and last word of this synod. In Christ is our confidence.