PEREGRINATIONS - Canadian Catholic Perspectives and Reflections by members of the PERSONAL ORDINARIATE OF THE CHAIR OF ST. PETER
Monday, 6 October 2014
The Synod of Bishops on the Family 2014
There is much speculation and not a little prediction going on with regard to the Synod of Bishops now underway in Rome. Our first priority is to pray for the bishops that God's Holy Spirit will guide them in this important advisory meeting to shape the approaches that the Church will take in pastoral ministry to families around the world as part of the New Evangelization.
The Personal Ordinariates have a great concern for this outreach to families given our mandate to reach to individuals and families who may have celebrated Catholic baptism but are uncatechized.
Our mandate at STM includes offering families through BALDWIN ACADEMY assistance with their schooling by providing tutoring and instruction in choral music. Naturally, our hope is to nurture children and their families in the fulness of the Catholic Faith.
Given these considerations it is important to be clear about what this synod and the upcoming October 2015 Synod on the Family may accomplish. This is outlined in a recent thoughtful homily by Fr James Bradley in which he says:
"An unfortunate and misleading media storm surrounds this sacred event, one which has already inflicted untold damage on the faith of not a few of the faithful. It is important for us to note, and to keep firmly in our minds, two salient points to which we may wish to refer back in the coming days.
First, it is important to note that there can be no contradiction between sacred scripture and the Church’s teaching. The Church, as the mystical body of Christ on earth, continues the mission of Christ in the world today, rooted in the faith of the apostles. Thus it cannot be said that the Church’s doctrinal teaching and the disciplines which flow directly from it are distinct from, still less opposed to, the message of the gospel. Nor can it be said that the scriptures, interpreted by the Church in a consistent and unambiguous way under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, or the Church’s doctrine that flows from them, is in some way opposed to reality of Christ’s actions or his message of hope and salvation to all.
Secondly, it is important to note that there can be no contradiction between justice and mercy. Any parallel between true justice and true mercy is a false parallel, at odds with the authentic person of Christ in whom, truly, ‘Mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other’ (Ps. 85: 10). Indeed, it is Christ who gives us both the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us in the opening words of his encyclical letter Caritas in veritate, ‘Charity in truth [. . .] is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity’ (CiV 1). True and pastoral care then, whatever situation befalls a person, is found not in avoiding the struggles of the cross but in embracing them in the life of Christ—in his passion and death—in order to share more fully in his resurrection and so to receive the balm of his mercy, and thus the fullness of life. As Pope Saint John Paul II teaches, ‘Human freedom and God’s law are not in opposition; on the contrary, they appeal one to the other’ (VS 17).
It is in this context that the third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops meets this week. Not to discuss, as one newspaper put it, ‘whether the church can change its doctrines’, but to come to a deeper and more profound knowledge of Christ and the life he demands of those, of us, who have chosen to leave everything and to follow him (cf. Lk. 5: 11)."
Some will consider adding to our prayer, a pilgrimage to The 8th World Day of Families, to be held in Philadelphia from September 22-27, 2015 setting the stage for the General Synod on the Family, Pontificium Concilium pro Familia, Rome, October 2015.