That Family Synod

RNS blogger Michael J. O’Loughlin is a little nervous about next Fall’s synod on families. His reason:

In recent years, Catholic leaders spoke of “family” as a not-so-veiled code meant to denigrate the gay rights movement, fight marriage equality, and remind us that the church’s definition of “family” didn’t include gays and lesbians. The hostility was palpable, and sometimes even encouraged, from some quarters of the church.

I think this is right. I’ve always thought the whole defense-of-marriage tack was little better than painting one front of the culturewar with some politically-correct language. What the Knights of Columbus and some bishops were talking about was in no way helpful to my marriage, or to the marriages of many people I know. How about promoting retreats, Retrouvaille, couples’ nights, good events for engaged couples.

For the millions the KC expended on politics, they could have purchased hundreds of thousands of hours of child-sitting so couples could work on those “real” marriages. A goshdarn waste of money, if you ask me, for the choices that were made.

CNS has a brief summation here.

In response to the Freiburg solution, Federico Lombardi mentioned …

The Holy Father is placing the pastoral care of the family at the heart of a synod process that will be larger, involving the reflection of the universal church.

This, I think, is right. Alarmists will be running in circles and doing stuff (according to Jim). A careful and universal examination of policy and procedure is an important thing to do. Let’s take this matter carefully and with discernment. Meanwhile, pastors and pastoral ministers can begin to reach out to remarried couples and explore particular situations.

I don’t fathom opening the door for remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist as impacting on doctrine or morality. And a universal synod is well-placed to call upon the Church’s theological heft to place this within the bounds of sound sacramental practice.

I feel sure that many other issues will be addressed. Adoption, a big matter for the US, and not so much in the rest of the world, needs to be addressed in an affirmative and encouraging way. I still see a lot of crazy-pants uninformed opinions on the net about adoption–mostly, but not always, coming from conservatives. (This family, for instance, is talking about a 20th birth child in the Big Media–or maybe even an adoption. I don’t know why they don’t consider going for 25 or even 30, which I’m sure they could do if they adopted special needs children.)

I’m looking forward to seeing the pre-synod talking points. When they get published, I’ll make a point of bringing them to this website and throwing them up for commentary.

I think there are places to explore liturgy and spirituality within families. Overall, I find the spirituality of marriage and family to be very impoverished in Roman Catholicism. The canonists have had their millennium. It’s time for the theologians, and hopefully the mystics to offer some meat next year, and for a few centuries after that at least.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to That Family Synod

  1. Liam says:

    As a single person solidly in the middle of life’s journey (which is further along than in Dante’s time…), I have to say the Church has very little to say to single people who are not on route to marriage or a “vocation” (in the hackneyed use of that term). It thinks it has more to say than it really does. I’ve learned not to rely on the Church to address it in a meaningful way, and frankly, I don’t trust the current crop of bishops to offer anything helpful other than platitudes that make them feel they can check the box off and go on to something less awkward.

    • Todd says:

      Well said.

      I think what is missing for you and for all of us, is a significant elaboration on the vocation of baptism. If I were totally unsympathetic to the issue of same-sex couples, I might suggest the reason why there’s so much hemorrhage on that front is because the institution offers no real choice outside of priesthood, religious life, and a tolerance for marriage.

  2. “Overall, I find the spirituality of marriage and family to be very impoverished in Roman Catholicism.”


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