On Thursday afternoon the Synod of Bishops, meeting in Rome to address the subject of the family, heard 30 interventions, between those that were scheduled and those that were free. On Friday morning it heard the 12 fraternal delegates attending.
This afternoon they will meet again by languages in the small circles to debate on the third part of theInstrumentum Laboris.
The Commission in charge of writing the final text is already working on the integration of all the ways proposed by the small groups in regard to the two first parts, contributed in past days, explained Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office, today during the daily press conference, accompanied by spokesmen for the different languages.
During the debate, they “returned several times to the idea of having it understood that the support and preparation to marriage for Christian couples and for those living in difficult situations requires essentially the participation of experienced Christian couples, who can communicate their experience in a missionary way to others and be the best places for their reception,” explained Father Lombardi.
In this connection, he quoted an intervention “on sexuality and the importance of sexual relations in the life of spouses and of the family, both in relation to the daily reconciliation that the spouses live, as well as the more profound and <Eucharistic> dimension of the gift of self: it is acknowledged that it is the experience of couples that must guide the Church in this field to find answers, because they are the persons that have the most true experience.”
Thus the spokesman for the Italian group explained that yesterday’s interventions were more emotive as they were the “personal testimonies of the auditors.” Among the subjects addressed were Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vita,adoptions, childless couples, orphans, marital annulment, and the situation of the divorced that have remarried civilly. Highlighted was the importance of the marital bond, stressing the need for pastoral care that is more adapted to the present times.
For his part, Father Rosica said, in English, that some interventions mentioned the importance of the experience of older couples, as they can offer a testimony of life. Attention was also called to the fact that priests must have a more direct relationship with couples. Addressed as well were the subjects of violence, of incest and of sexual abuse within the family, pointing out that the Church must be a voice for persons who have suffered these evils.
In connection with sexuality, it was pointed out that, taking into account that priests are unmarried men, it would be useful that married couples themselves give formation on these matters. Mentioned also is the importance of a good sexual education in families, and how the Church must be a Mother and teach Love.
Father Manuel Dorantes, spokesman of the Spanish group, referred to an intervention on sexual education and preparation for marriage, requesting that the Church enter this realm in a clear way, given that the present sexual formation is very negative and disastrous. Often many parents of families do not speak to their children about the beauty of sexuality, leaving this role to public education. The Church herself needs to take up this role, presenting the good news of human sexuality as a way of love and not of sin.
Also intervening in the press conference was one of the fraternal delegates, Stephanos, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Estonia, who said that the family is part of a reality, the couple formed between man and woman, and that in this sexual difference we find the fulfilment of the human act. “We cannot deny this difference; there cannot be evolution in nature without this difference. Therefore the Church has a role to play, not only [for the sake of] Doctrine but to carry life forward,” he specified, stating that they have not been only spectators at this Synod given that they have been able to speak and to share the same concern.
For his part, another fraternal delegate, Reverend Timothy Thornton, Anglican Bishop of Truro, said that the Synod is doing a common work: “We listen to one another, we learn from each other. It is a real sign of hope.” He also said he felt privileged to be there, that it has been a great experience and they have been very well received. “It’s been extraordinary to hear other persons and what happens to them in their situations,” he added.