The two week Synod is halfway through. For a week now, bishops, families and the Pope himself have discussed some of the challenges faced by modern day families and what the Church can do to help.
Cardinal Peter Erd , issued a midterm report to summarize the discussion list. He stated that despite the hardships faced by families, there is still much to be hopeful for.
CARD. PETER ERDÖ
Archbishop Esztergom-Budapest (Hungary)
"Despite all the signs of families in crisis around the world, the will to have a family is still alive, especially among the youth. This highlights the need for the Church to constantly spread the message of the Gospel and the Family.”
Perhaps one of the biggest pastoral challenge is loneliness. Cardinal Erd stated that people often feel isolated and helpless. The economic crisis and the cost of living also distances young people from marriage.
DIVORCED AND RE-MARRIED
As far as divorced and re-married couples, there's been a lot of talk about both truth and mercy. Attention has been given to looking at individual cases, instead of implementing one universal rule for all. Reforms to the annulment process have also been addressed. Also the voice of the laity must be listended to.
CARD. LUIS ANTONIO TAGLE
Archbishop of Manila, Philippines
"In the parishes and in the dioceses, lay people should be heard more often. The pastors should listen to the realities of married life coming from the lay people. We encourage the families to be missionaries, not only in their own parishes, but even outside.”
Programs should also be in place to help children of divorced couples as they go through the separation of their parents.
Bishops have been asked to personally reflect on what they can do in their local dioceses to promote the strength of the family unit and to communicate the message of the Gospel.
MSGR. SALVADOR PIÑEIRO GARCÍA-CALDERÓN
Archbishop of Ayacucho (Perú)
"May we commit to the pastoral care of the family with more determination, so that the homes entrusted to us, can become schools of the Gospel.”
In regards to homosexuality, the report states that gay people 'have gifts and talents to offer the Christian community.' However, their unions cannot be equated to marriage. Important pastoral outreach programs are also needed to reach out to them.
MSGR. BRUNO FORTE
"The Church doesn't believe the term 'family' can be used indifferently or that the union between a man and a woman is the same as that between homosexuals. Having said that, it's evident that people involved in different relationships also have rights.”
There is still a week left of the first phase of the Synod. Some bishops will then be summoned again to Rome in October 2015.
CARD. LORENZO BALDISSERI
Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
"In the second phase of the Synod, we will be able to come back to Rome and discuss those topics that were not addressed this time around.”
The two week Synod will conclude on October 19th. The second phase of the Synod, where concrete decisions are expected, will take place from October 4th to the 25th, 2015.