Synod: accompanying families as Jesus did with the disciples in Emmaus
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In societies marked by individualism and loneliness, the notion of "accompaniment" is crucial to help young people in their decision to marry, engaged couples as they grow more mature in that decision, and married couples as they work at keeping their marriage stable. Doing so means following the example of the Risen Jesus who “accompanied” the disciples in their time of loss and sadness through their rediscovery of his presence.
Today accompaniment was among the most discussed issues in the Synod’s circuli minores (work groups). The focus was on 'The Discernment of the Family Vocation’, the second part of the Instrumentum laboris, as well as the theological elements of the marriage vocation and the pastoral education of families.
During the discussions, some participants proposed to set aside a Day of prayer and adoration for marriage and the family, to be celebrated on the feast day of the Holy Family. Others put forward the idea of helping people prepare for marriage, going beyond expert opinion by including the experience of true witnesses to familial love, some sort of "catechumenate" to marriage. Still others suggested improved training for priests to enable them to grow spiritually and emotionally.
The impact of work on the family was also mentioned. Sometimes, work is too demanding, a burden that denies families joy and sense of togetherness; in other situations, work is in short supply, so families cannot earn their livelihood.
Speaking about special situations faced by Christian families in areas with special cultural and religious circumstances, participants mentioned the efforts by Christian families in Islamic countries.
They also mentioned Asia Bibi, a jailed Pakistani Catholic, torn from her husband and children after she was accused of blasphemy, as well as the young Copts killed in Libya, where they had emigrated hoping to earn money to get married.
In today's briefing, Fr Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican Press Office, said that there were "some strong views" on communion for the divorced and remarried. "Some, a small number but with clear views, expressed a negative position with regard to communion for the divorced and remarried." However, such "rigidity", Fr Lombardi noted, has to be seen "in the context of caring for everyone who is in a difficult situation, for whom we must find ways to make them feel part and close to the Church".
Two other issues also emerged in connection with what might be called the “media synod”, which is very different from real synod.
In one case, some media outlets have reported that the final report is missing. Fr Lombardi said that “the Final Report exists; it is not missing. What we do not know is what the pope will do with it, whether he will have it released as such or not.”
A second issue concerns a letter published in some mass media, ostensibly signed by 13 cardinals. Addressed to the Pope, the letter highlights some flaws in the methodology for the Synod discussions, as well as in the preparation of the final documents.
The Vatican Press Office director declined to comment on the contents of the letter. He said however, “What I can say is that some cardinals are beginning to say that they did not sign it [the letter]. Two of them, cardinals Vingt-Trois and Scola, have explicitly told those who asked them that they never signed anything like it."