Presentation of Instrumentum Laboris in the press room

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Synod ‘15: Vatican Releases ‘Instrumentum Laboris’ for Upcoming Synod on the Family

Working Document Summarizes Extraordinary Synod and Responses to Questions Sent Out in December 2014

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The Vatican published the Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming General Ordinary Synod on “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World”.

An instrumentum laboris (Latin for “working instrument”) is an official Vatican document, a summary of the conclusions from last year’s Extraordinary Synod and responses to the special questionnaire sent out to the Church in December 2014.

The working document was presented today during a press conference at the Holy See Press Office. Among those present were Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops; Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest (Hungary) and Relator General of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; and Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto (Italy), Special Secretary of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

In his address, Cardinal Baldisseri noted the “active participation of the whole People of God” in responding to the “Lineamenta” – or preparatory document. The document, which was released in December, lays down the points made in the Relatio Synodi of the Extraordinary Synod along with questions that will go further in depth on the themes discussed.

“The Instrumentum Laboris,” the Cardinal said, “will be the foundation of the work for the next Assembly.”

The document divides the work of the Synod into three issues: the challenges faced by families today, discernment on the vocation of the family, and the mission of the family today.

Among the challenges facing families that will be discussed are “poverty and social exclusion, old age, widowhood, bereavement in the family, disability, migration, the role of women, emotional life and education in sexuality, and bioethics.”

Regarding the second part, “discernment of the family vocation”, Cardinal Baldisseri that the Synod will further discuss themes relating to natural marriage, its indissolubility as a gift and a duty, and family. It will also discuss other areas of reflection such as faith, prayer, catechesis, the bond between the Church and the family, youth and the fear of marriage.

The final part, dedicated to the “mission of the family today” will reflect on the importance of the family and evangelization, their role in the pastoral ministry of the Church and missionary openness.

“I would like to note here that in this inter-synodal period has been extremely helpful, it has permitted the reception and deepening of the Lineamenti, but also an effective expansion of the issues related to the family, thanks to the involvement of a large part of the People of God and of numerous ecclesial and academic institutions,” Cardinal Baldisseri said.

Rediscovering the Vocation of the Family

Regarding the format of the three week Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists that each will reflect on the issues divided in the Instrumentum Laboris. After the third week, the reports of the Synod will be collected to form the final text of the concluding document.

“A final document is expected that will be delivered into the hands of the Holy Father,” the cardinal said.

The Italian prelate also recalled that the upcoming General Assembly will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Synod of Bishops by Blessed Paul VI on September 15th, 1965. He also noted that the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy which will begin on December 8th will offer a time of reflection following the Synod.

Concluding his address, Cardinal Baldisseri said that, as expressly desired by Pope Francis, “the Synodal Fathers are invited to express themselves with parrhesia.” He also said that they will be free to speak with the media “at their discretion and responsibility.”

“We entrust the synodal work to the Holy Family of Nazareth, well aware that- as the Holy Father reminded us – their shining example ‘commits us to rediscover the vocation and mission of the family,’” he said.

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Junno Arocho Esteves

Newark, New Jersey, USA Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.

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