VATICAN: On October 6, 2015, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, led a press conference outlining discussions arising from recent sessions of the Synod on the Family. Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., Vatican appointed English-language spokesperson at the Synod on the Family, gave an overview of note worthy topics of discussion.
“Poverty, unemployment, migration, war, and the current massive refugee problem that is taking place, are all huge challenges for marriage,” said Fr. Rosica. There are many challenges that continue to cause injury to the family as we live in a society of disposability, self centered social expression, and other inherent social and human barriers. During this time of insecurity, we must look to the church as a guide, as did our ancestors during times of war, violence, and instability. “The church is mother and teacher, judge and doctor,” he said. Fr. Rosica described a reoccurring metaphor that the church is often like a Global Positioning System(GPS), “sometimes when the road is broken, we must find a new road to get to the other side,” he said.
Mercy, innovative language, approachability, and a more welcoming presence are key points as the church calibrates this new direction.
“Are we the masters at the table of the Eucharist? Or, are we the servants at that table welcoming people to it?” said Fr. Rosica. A stronger pastoral approach for people living together before marriage is necessary, along with new programs of effective catechesis that meets people where they are. “There must be an end to exclusionary language, and a strong emphasis on embracing reality. We should not be afraid of new and complex situations,” he said. With nearly two dozen countries recognizing same sex marriage around the world, and with a growing number of governments discerning whether to grant legal recognition, it is a continued fundamental conviction that homosexual persons are to be approached with love and mercy. Homosexual men and women are our flesh and blood: sons, daughters, neighbours, colleagues, and should never be treated as outsiders.
In making a clear link between fostering a more compassionate approach, and the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, the possibility of a temporary reinstitution of form 3 of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that being general absolution, was discussed as a way to providing a strong invitation and clear signal to people who are on the fringes, inviting them to come home, wherever they may be, or struggle they may be living. “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but the powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak,” said Fr. Rosica. This global understanding of families was discussed, in recognizing that every continent, every country, every region is different, and face their own unique challenges. “When we presume that human nature is essentially good, much good can come from that, and how we deal with people. Rather than looking at human nature as fallen and broken, we must see it is as essentially good and beautiful.” he said.
Domestic violence is a challenge for many families in almost all cultures, and “must be eradicated at all costs,” said Fr. Rosica. “Not only can homes be dangerous places, but even our church can be a dangerous place.” There must be a renewed focus on creating a healthy and safe environment for families to live, grow, and worship. These environments of worship and encounter, are also opportunities for evangelization, as interfaith and inter religious marriages are not problems, but should be seen rather as opportunities to “create places of welcome, evangelization, and of catechesis,” he said.
The Synod will be breaking into small group sessions on Tuesday afternoon, and throughout the week until Friday.