Synod on the Family 2: A Much-Needed School

window from insideWe’ll continue with the introduction (1-4) of the “Relatio Synodi” of last month’s bishops’ meeting in Rome. You can read the full document here.

2. Within the family are joys and trials, deep love and relationships which, at times, can be wounded. The family is truly the “school of humanity” (Gaudium et Spes, 52), which is much needed today. Despite the many signs of crisis in the family institution in various areas of the “global village”, the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people, and serves as the basis of the Church’s need to proclaim untiringly and with profound conviction the “Gospel of the Family”,  entrusted to her together with the revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ and ceaselessly taught by the Fathers, the masters of spirituality and the Church’s Magisterium. The family is uniquely important to the Church and in these times, when all believers are invited to think of others rather than themselves, the family needs to be rediscovered as the essential agent in the work of evangelization.

Vatican II is cited, but what did they mean a half-century ago by calling the family a “school?” We discussed that here years ago. The original cites a deeper humanity. How would I take that? God made people and intends something in our nature that leads us to holiness. The family is the first, and probably the most usual locus for human aspirations to eternity.

As in GS 52, a special concern is expressed for young people. An apt acknowledgement that the desire for family remains strong. The support from various aspects of culture, including the Church in far too many instances, is sadly lacking.

The text here in the synod document leans on the Magisterium and the so-called “masters of spirituality.” I wouldn’t disagree with the lineage of doctors, mystics, and bishops. While they certainly have input to offer, I point out that GS 52 underscores the need for clergy competent in matters of the family. Ordination gives absolutely no background–schooling, if you will–on matters of spouses, their children, and their concerns.

While I think one can become well-versed, even expert in family matters without being married, I suggest this is the exception. Unless one’s training and experience with others is exceptional. For a caste that has nearly no experience as an adult within the central relationship of a family, counseling and spiritual direction skills may not be enough.

The bishops were pleased with this paragraph. The vote count was 179 in favor, none against, 4 abstaining or still getting into the discussion hall. What about discussion from you all?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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