10/10/2015, 00.00
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Synod: the indissolubility of marriage, which "must be presented positively and not as a yoke"

The 75 interventions touched upon topics like the family and mission, how to welcome families that hurt, and the family as a concrete path for the Church's presence in history, a path of the Church. A proposal was made to prepare future universal synods through continental synods at regional meetings.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, spoke at the end of the Synod’s first week of work. He noted that the main topics were the family and mission, welcoming families that hurt, the indissolubility of marriage, which "must be presented positively and not as a yoke," and the family as a concrete path for the Church's presence in history, a path of the church, a school of humanity, sociality, and evangelisation.

In today’s briefing, Fr Lombardi noted that 75 participants spoke yesterday and this morning, the largest contingent coming from Europe, 15 from Africa, another 15 from the Middle East, and slightly less from Latin America. He stated that the discussions touched upon "the family’s missionary vocation – which is responsible, within the Church as well, of preparing [people] for marriage, and for the support of other families – as well as on its contribution to the pastoral ministry of the family."

Participants looked at the vocation to marriage and family life, "seen as a response to God’s call, no less than that of the priesthood or religious life,” and noted the importance of movements and groups of family life.

"A lot of attention was given to the topic of mercy – which manifests itself in closeness and tenderness, as well as in relation to the difficult situations couples and families can experience – and to the relationship between mercy and truth, mercy and justice, and mercy and welcoming people.  [This is] a real invitation not oppose mercy to truth."

"Mercy manifests itself in closeness and tenderness, in relation to different situations, even difficult ones, in which families or couples find themselves. However, we also have to keep in mind the matter of mercy and truth, mercy and justice, and not oppose mercy to truth. The Church must always insist on the way it welcomes everyone, every family, including those who may be in distress. It must proclaim the Gospel and embrace people. Hence, this leads to a synthesis between evangelisation and welcoming people, which must be the point of reference for the pastoral ministry."

Some participants centred their interventions on "families with spouses from different religions, and on migrations". A married couple, Catholic wife and a Hindu husband, relayed their own story to illustrate the reality of mixed marriages.

Speaking at the briefing, Card Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal brought up the experience of the Indian Church. India, he said, encourages family ties; one more person is not a burden but a blessing. But "How do families survive?" he asked. Families, he answered, "do not survive because they are social entities but because they are a spiritual force."

Card Thottunkal also noted that it would be appropriate to provide a stronger voice to local Churches. Hence, he mentioned a proposal of organising continental synods in preparation for the next universal synods, through regional meetings.

"The discussion should always start at the local level in order to take root at the universal level,” he explained. “The outcome of the conference could thus be more understandable and concrete."

"The simplest solution,” said Fr Javier Alvarez-Ossorio, superior general of the Congregations of the Sacred Hearts, who was present at the briefing, “would be to start discussing at the level of bishops’ conferences or even at that of the diocese and then talk about it at the synod level.”

Noting that the former “is a proposal, not an item on the agenda,” Father Lombardi went on to say that many participants asked to speak on the third and final part of the Instrumentum laboris, which is the longest and most articulated, for it addresses long-awaited issues.

Finally, in response to journalists' questions, he said that it is not yet clear if the Synod’s final document will be published. “On the conclusion, there is still no complete clarity in the Synod,” he explained. “We shall see if the Pope gives precise indications." (FP)

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