The Synod of Bishops is debating the third part of the Instrumentum Laboris, on “The Mission of the Family Today,” which includes some of the most delicate issues regarding the support of families in difficult situations and suffering.
As explained in a press conference today, between Wednesday afternoon and this morning there was a total of 93 interventions from synod fathers. Many, in fact, addressed the situation of the divorced that have remarried civilly and wish to access Communion.
At the press conference, along with Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, were the spokesmen of the different languages: in Spanish, Father Manuel Dorantes; in Italian, Father Bernard Hagenkord; in English, Father Thomas Rosica; and in French, Romilda Ferrauto.
Representing the synod fathers were Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, and Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, president of the Polish Episcopal Conference.
According to the various spokesmen, the Fathers stressed in their interventions the defense of Catholic Doctrine, stating that “the Church has no authority or power to change the Word of God.”
But there was also talk of the penitential way and the path of discernment, stressing that the divorced that have remarried civilly are not excommunicated and that one can take part in the life of the Church in many ways.
Another subject addressed in the debate was mixed marriages with disparity of worship, and the challenges that these couples face. For instance, reference was made to Catholic women who marry Muslims and are obliged to live in a polygamous situation. There was also reflection on the suffering and the need to offer consolation to married couples that cannot have children.
In order to address these and many other situations, there was talk of the need for concrete family pastoral care, and not only the organization of specific events.
For his part, Archbishop Aguiar explained that “the Synod does not pretend to take decisions. Our reflections remain open in the hands of the Holy Father.”
Monsignor Gadecki said that “it is necessary to support the divorced with love and friendship so that they feel loved by the Church,” but he reminded at the same time that “repentance is necessary and acknowledgment of one’s errors, and to begin a new path.” In addition, he pointed out that “no one must be condemned because condemnation and judgment is the Lord’s, not ours.”
The Mexican prelate also stressed that “doctrine and pastoral care go hand in hand. Pastoral care is the consequence of the doctrine.” The Lord has said to us that salvation is for all, he continued, adding that “it is not about justifying anomalous situations but of discovering the causes and situations and how they can be supported pastorally.”
Archbishop Gadecki asserted that there is agreement in the Synod “that no authority in the world can do away with the bond of a valid marriage.”
To conclude, Archbishop Aguiar explained that, with the Jubilee Year, the Pope demonstrates the Church’s desire to show the merciful love of God, a love that must reach everyone in the best way, a love that begins to be generated in the heart of a family.
For his part, the Vatican spokesman, Father Lombardi, mentioned that the Motu Proprio was also discussed, on the process of marital annulment, in particular in relation to the formation of the juridical agents. He added that there were many concrete proposals and pastoral counsels. For instance, one of the Synodal Fathers said that “in the Instrumentum Labotris forgiveness is mentioned only once, and it is too little.”