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Synod15: Report From Small Circle Italian ‘A’

“It is the task of the Ecclesial Community to offer a permanent course of catechesis that supports all ages of life and involves families, without being limited to immediate preparation for the Sacraments”

The Vatican on Wednesday published the third set of reports completed by the small circles in the Synod of Bishops. The circles are divided by language groups, and there are four English-speaking circles. These reports regard the third part of the Instrumentum Laboris. Here is a ZENIT translation of the Italian-language “A” group.

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Moderator: Cardinal Francesco Montenegro

Relator: Reverend Father Manuel Jesus Arroba Conde, C.M.F.

In the reflection of the Italian Circle “A” on the third part [of the Instrumentum Laboris], much thought was given to the feeling of the majority expressed in the Hall on the need to reorder the text and to increase attention to catechetical formation and to the subjectivity of the family in the work of evangelization.

In this connection, in regard to the first chapter, there was a unanimous desire to solicit from the Commission the reordering of numbers 69-83, following a more logical criterium, without the present fragmentation, with greater consideration of the evangelizing subjectivity of the family (especially in regard to the various forms of proclamation and witness of the Gospel of the Family to others), and avoiding approaches to the topic that are only functional, without the due balance between the being of the family and the apostolic activities that seem more proper to it, and about which mention is made in other numbers of this third part. In regard to formation for marriage and for family life, it seems necessary to unify, under the title “Formation to Marriage and to Family Life,” paragraphs 84-86 and 94-95, to make evident that:

  • Marriage is the answer to a specific call to live conjugal love in Christ and in the Spirit, becoming a credible sign of the love of Christ and of the Church
  • Therefore, the choice to get married and to create a family cannot but be the fruit of a vocational discernment
  • The possibility to understand the Lord’s will for one’s life and to adhere to it matures in a journey of faith that is not improvised and that is fulfilled in family life and within the ecclesial community.
  • It is the task of the Ecclesial Community to offer a permanent course of catechesis that supports all ages of life and involves families, without being limited to immediate preparation for the Sacraments. It corresponds to it to propose, also with the help of Associations and Movements, formative itineraries that introduce one progressively in the life of grace, educates to find the unifying center in relation to the Lord Jesus and the principle of the meaning of one’s existence and renders witnesses of the Gospel in daily commitments
  • Not neglected, then, is a more direct preparation for marriage, which is realized with due care on the part of Pastors so that the teaching of the Church in regard to marriage and the family is represented in all its exacting beauty.

In this connection, one can speak of a “remote preparation,” that passes through the transmission of the faith and of Christian values lived within the family itself, of a “proximate preparation” that coincides with the itineraries of catechesis and the formative experiences lived within the Ecclesial Community, and of an “immediate preparation” for marriage, part of a wider qualified journey of the vocational dimension. 

At the center of all this journey must be the Word, to be learned and discovered as light and lamp, prayer in its liturgical dimension, but also “domestic prayer” to be lived in the family, the Sacraments and the sacramental life, fraternity with the poor and needy to learn the virtue of sobriety and the capacity to share (cf. Francis, Engagement, General Audience, May 27, 2015), together with the experience of forgiveness. It is also important to promote an ever more profound sense of belonging to the Church within which the Lord calls to live one’s vocation. Particular attention should be given to affective maturation, educating to a love capable of the gift of self and of relations that are not compromised by a will to possess, without fear of pointing out the Christian virtues capable of regenerating the relations and having them shine, first among all of them chastity, positive principle of action that protects the other and oneself in the truth of love.  Elements that were the object of special discernment were the importance of language and the distinction (in regard to imperfect situations) between institutionalized persons and situations. Some Fathers solicited attention on the deconstructive importance that some concepts inherent to marriage and the family have today; for other Fathers, the priority in a secularized context is to avoid languages conditioned by a sensation of siege and to communicate the Gospel with language permeated by hope, which leverages the work that the Lord is surely carrying out in persons, also in those that live in family situations that are far from the Christian proposal.

Recalled, in regard to the necessary distinction between institutionalized persons and situations, was the diversity of problems in the different cultures, appreciating the fact of a civil marital commitment as opposed to simple cohabitation and taking account of the propaedeutic value of the laws that foresee it.

There was a long reflection on the prophetic character of Humanae Vitae, confirming its timeliness. The need was stressed to avoid setting conscience against the moral law. From a lively confrontation in which several stresses emerged, a formulation was sought at the same time that would help to understand how a correctly formed conscience is able to recognize the good that the moral norm indicates and make responsible choices. The importance was likewise confirmed to affirm the right to conscientious objection in a context such as the present, where the public powers try to limit it by dint of a presumed common good. In regard to the situation of those who have experienced the failure of marriage, the members of the Circle were in agreement on the need to address them having particular care in distinguishing the variety of situations, promoting in any case itineraries of faith, of reconciliation and of integration in the Ecclesial Community. The importance was affirmed that these itineraries include a careful and prudent pastoral discernment under the final authority of the Bishop. The Episcopal Conferences are called to mature common criteria appropriate to the situation of the respective particular Churches.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

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