Toward the Synod on the Family 2014
Toward the Synod on the Family 2014
Rome (Italy). There will take place in Rome the XIV Synod of Bishops to reflect on ‘pastoral challenges’ that regard “the family in the context of the new evangelization”. After the Council, the Synod is the highest expression of the Catholic Church’s collegiality, and of the effort to walk together and united along the roads of Christian witness.
The new Synod will be celebrated, according to the Pope’s wishes, in two phases. From October 5 to 19, 2014 there will be the extraordinary General Assembly of all the Bishops, “aimed at clarifying the ‘status quaestionis’ and gathering testimonies and proposals from the Bishops for announcing and living the Gospel credibly for the family”. The second, taking place in 2015 will be the actual General Assembly, “aimed at seeking working guidelines for the pastoral of the human person and of the family”.
The theme of the Family calls on all the Churches in the world and involves all the components of the ‘People of God’, from Cardinals to Bishops, to religious families, to each individual believer in the farthest periphery.
Sr. Grazia Loparco, FMA, Professor of Church History at the Pontifical Faculty of the Sciences of Education Auxilium, wrote an interesting article entitled, “More like the Common People” for the Osservatore Romano. The changes in society impose a re-thinking of relationships on religious families.
“Let us prepare ourselves for the Synod on the Family. The Church is provoked to greater listening and to dialogue with everyone. In the Church there are many self-styled religious families composed of men and women religious, and lay persons who recognize each other in their spirituality. They live in the context of a family that is ever more pluralistic, with anthropological, ethical, and relational models combined in the most diverse ways.
Pluralism of forms in nuclear families and ideologies of this type are amplified and very widespread through the mass media. They enter into behaviours and mentalities that do not have a point of reference for their choices. Behaviours that are more and more legitimatized by public opinion develop parallel to ecclesial proposals. Evidently, in the middle is the person, anthropology, the concept of person wanted and what one tries to be.
Do religious families have something to say about this radical change? Or in society, even as they decrease especially in the West, do they have some significance and relevance only because of the services they render, for the charitable or educational activities they promote, inspired by the Gospel that puts the life of every human person at the centre? But they themselves, men and women, what concept do they have of themselves and how do they relate among themselves?
In the confusion of genders, in the social unease of men and women who tend to de-humanize each other to the point of exploitation and homicide, in the difficulty of overcoming trials in real families, does religious life have a word to say, good news to communicate, after having matured an internal change, a way of thinking, and continually forming themselves in rapport to the goal of Heaven. If a religious family matures relationships of reciprocity among the adult components, it can offer a meaningful proposal to the disorientation produced among the young by the propaganda of models lacking prospects for a life of quality. How can we seriously commit ourselves to re-think anthropological models of men and women, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in the various parts of the world, to express evangelical newness of the original plan for persons called to dialogue and communion, to reciprocal care, and to respect?
Particularly for the young, I think we must make the effort in this direction since as religious we are signs by definition. It would entail a re-thinking of relationships that intimately touch the Church as well. It is a change that, for religious, begins in the house, in daily collaboration that can be functional or truly humanizing with widespread positive repercussions.
Thus, the traditional religious family called to be in the dynamics of history, different forms of consecrated life where mixed communities are from their origins, can offer their reflected experience as the basis of an anthropological re-thinking that finds its elements of deep convergence in the mission, in service to others, beginning among themselves. Probably, by becoming visibly more similar to regular people, in the specificity of their proper vocation, they would also re-acquire the transparency and incisiveness of witness and proclamation.”