Opening Mass of the XVI Ordinary Meeting of the Synod of Bishops


Synod15: Report From Small Circle Italian 'B'

“The question is asked; change of what? Certainly not of the teaching of Christ: change is of the world, and this must be clarified”

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the small group reports from the Italian-language group “B.” The reports were released last Friday. The small circles are divided by language and this report summarizes their discussions on the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris.

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Report of the Italian Circle “B”

Moderator: Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli

Relator: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza

The Fathers making up the Italian Circle B proceeded to the reading of the individual numbers of the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris  and to reflection on them, with ample and articulated discussion, always coming to largely shared conclusions.

With an essentially positive vision of the text, they drafted the individual “Ways” always having in mind the pastoral realism that we intend to pursue. In general, the conviction was revealed to simplify the text somewhat, to avoid as much as possible subordinate phrases and to look at it again under the stylistic aspect.

There is talk in the first numbers of anthropological change – cultural, but the question is asked; change of what? Certainly not of the teaching of Christ: change is of the world, and this must be clarified. Instead, it would be better to speak of “cultural change in present-day society” (nn. 6-7). Moreover, it would seem appropriate to give content to the expression “Gospel of the Family, and, in n. 6, to say a word about the value of the person.

The Fathers highlighted the importance of the fact that the text should include more biblical quotations (to find the first one must go to n. 39, p. 32) and some Patristic quotations. In this connection, n. 7 (p. 13), where it speaks of the goodness of God’s creative plan, Sacred Scripture could be quoted and the text of Clement of Alexandria, where he teaches that man becomes image of God by cooperating in creation. In the context of the fragility and strength of the family (n. 10), the Fathers expressed the hope of a reference to the “vocation” of the family.

It is opportune to recall that the same dignity between man and woman has evangelical roots. Recalled and re-launched is the reality of woman and of her role in the teaching of reciprocity, valuing the equality and the difference, avoiding excesses and unilateralism. Stressed on the other hand are the limitations of a feminism that teaches only equality that crushes the figure of woman by that of man and the limitations of that which teaches the sole difference, which attempts to remove the man-woman identity.

The Fathers suggested reflection on the relation between welfare and the compensatory action of the family. However, they request effective legislation geared to the support of the family and of its needs.

The hope was expressed of a change in the practice of International Organizations that condition their aid for the development of poor countries to demographic policies.

Thanks also to the impulse of the Social Doctrine of the Church and latterly of the Encyclical Laudato Si’, the hope is expressed of a change of the contemporary mentality through the culture of an “integral ecology,” towards a new way of thinking and of living (n. 16).

In reference to the last stage of life, the Fathers felt that encouragement should be expressed to support those ecclesial realities that make every effort to be at the side of tried families, so that they can live such moments of pain in the light of Christian hope (n. 20).

Today’s migratory phenomenon, which concerns not a few populations in various parts of the world, caused by war, by poverty and by the desire for a better life, involves families ever more profoundly and also challenges the Churches in particular. Therefore, the support of migrants and refugees calls for specific and collaborative pastoral care – between the Church of provenance and the Church of reception – addressed to members of families that emigrate, and to those that stay in places of origin. Respect of the different cultures and different faiths, on the part of one who emigrates and one who welcomes, constitutes one of the indispensable conditions for an integration that leads to peaceful coexistence. It is also important to stress not only the rights of migrants, but also their duties.

The family, understood as an educating community, leads to support the poly-form expression of affectivity, preferring witness to teaching, walking together, harmonizing sentiments in keeping with one’s state in life in the perspective of full gift of self.

The family of the Church expresses fully the expression of an educating community, taking care particularly of the preparation of the different pastoral workers  for ministries, charisms, competencies. Pointed out is the delicacy of education to affectivity in priestly formation. 

It should be stressed that, just as for God the “estranged” do not exist, it is similarly true for the Church. In face of the condition suffered by couples unable to have children, particular pastoral care must be expressed of consolation and support, re-directing also to the realization of generation that does not necessarily coincide with biological fecundity, as for instance adoption and fostering.

The Fathers point out the need to denounce the exploitation:

  • of the work of minors
  • of child soldiers
  • of woman’s body (prostitution, rented wombs, violence to the point of femicide and rape as a “weapon of war”).

NN. 31-33 express a reality that challenges body and spirit, plan and sentiments. The need is perceived to confirm that the Church has a positive look on sexuality, expression of symphonic tension between eros and agape.

In regard to the bioethical challenge (n. 34), it was felt necessary to keep in mind the Christian philosophic-theological patrimony, which can help to give a more serene understanding of such a delicate matter, fostering the collaboration of experts.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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