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  • John Thavis

Synod's "message" thanks families for witness of faith in face of problems

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

The Synod of Bishops today issued its final “message,” a three-page text that warned of crises in the modern family, including “failures” and problematic new relationships, and encouraged Christians to remain faithful to the authentic family values of the church.

The message made a point of thanking Christian families for their daily witness of “fidelity, faith, hope and love.”

It also said the church must “be a house with doors always open to welcome everyone.” But the text avoided any detailed discussion of some of the hot-button issues at this synod, including the law of graduality, outreach to cohabitating couples, homosexuality, and readmission of divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacraments.

Those issues will be taken up in greater detail in the synod’s final relatio, which was scheduled to be voted upon Saturday evening.

The synod’s message, approved overwhelmingly, outlined a series of problems afflicting modern families. Some were directly tied to attitudes and behavior by spouses and family members: “enfeebled faith,” indifference to true values, individualism, impatience and an unwillingness to make sacrifices.

“We recognize the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love,” it said. It spoke of stress and impoverishment of relationships, and crises in marriage that are dealt with in haste and without forgiveness.

“Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic, where the Christian choice is not obvious,” it said.

The message also spoke of external pressures on the family, including economic difficulties like unemployment, the “brutality of war and oppression,” violence and exploitation against women, and human trafficking. In what could be read as a reference to sex abuse scandals in the church, it cited children “abused by those who ought to have protected them and fostered their development.”

“We call on governments and international organizations to promote the rights of the family for the common good,” it said.

The message said the “authentic encounter” in marriage is between a man and a woman, realized in the sacrament of marriage, exhibiting a love that is also expressed in fertility. “In this light conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common,” it said.

“This journey is sometimes a mountainous trek with hardships and falls. God is always there to accompany us,” the message said.

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