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 “C” group.
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Moderator: Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco
Relator: H. E. Monsignor Franco Giulio Brambilla
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation” (Isaiah 52:7). Today the “feet of the messenger” that proclaims the “Good News” of the Gospel of peace must take “steps” and carry out “actions” on the path that builds the history of the family within the mission of the People of God. The dynamic of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, which recounts the “action” of the Spirit in the “Acts” of the early Church, describes the pastoral style that the Church, which loves the family, sends it on the roads of the world. Luke recounts Christian history as growth and progressive and contrasting radiation. To every problematic situation or persecution corresponds a new evangelizing impetus to the ends of the earth. Therefore, it does not seem forced to take up this pastoral movement around the five “steps” or “actions’ of number 24 of Evangelii Gaudium, which correspond well to the four chapters of the Third Part [of the Instrumentum Laboris]. In addition, is a step “outside the text” …
I. To take the initiative. “’Primear’ – to take the initiative”: please excuse me for this neologism. The evangelizing community experiences that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has preceded it in love (cf. 1 John 4:10) and, therefore, it is able to take the first step, to take the initiative without fear,” The Fathers paused to comment on the first chapter (Part III) to be able to realize a virtuous circularity between the “family as Ecclesia domestica: (LG 11) and the “Church as family of God.” This taking up the initiative” made us recover three important subjects.
– the family as subject of evangelization (and not only object of care) is preserved in her being “domestic Church,” where the Gospel is at home in prayer, in spirituality and in the daily life of the spouses and the children (in the diversity of the families) beyond all idealism or resignation to the present time;
– the (ritual) moment of the wedding, as a “threshold of faith” for the spouses, which receives the grace of the Spirit and becomes a fruitful time for a generative Christian community;
– pastoral conversion that calls attention to the languages capable of bringing about that “prodigious exchange” between local cultures (with marked differences between the different Continents) and the Christian novelty (which purifies, corrects and transforms always from the top). This is the original source of the Apostolic Church and of the Christian family from which to drink always.
II. To be involved. ”Consequently the Church is able to “involve herself.” Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The Lord involves himself and involves his own, kneeling down before the others to wash them. However, immediately after he says to the disciples “you will be blessed if you do this” (John 13:17).” The Synodal Fathers requested the reordering of the material of the second chapter, connecting the first part on the preparation for Marriage (numbers 84-86) and the last on guidance of the engaged before, during and after the Sacrament of Marriage (numbers 94-97). A strong instance emerged to wager on a Church that “is able to involve herself” and invites the engaged to “involve themselves” to build the common home of their future. One must pass from “courses” of preparation to a ‘course” of involvement of the spouses in ecclesial life and in the life of the Church in the journey of the spouses, translating it into a true itinerary of “initiation.” Some forms suggest many positive experiences. Decided here is the future of the Church and of the society that requires a real change of mentality, around which to call not only believers but all those who have at heart the future of humanity. Needed especially in the formation of presbyters, present and future, and of all those that love the family (from the spouses with hope to all the various competencies) is a more localized preparation for the new challenges (cf. new ways that rewrite the text). The social and political context has also aroused a firm discussion on the protection of the family in its specific difference as subject in the polis, the invitation to Catholics to care for the practical, social and legislative conditions that favor the family, as well as the support of a Christian culture that argues the potentialities in a new way.
III. To accompany. “The evangelizing community disposes itself to “accompany.” It accompanies humanity in all its processes, no matter how long and prolonged they are. It is aware of the long expectations and the apostolic endurance. Evangelization takes much patience and avoids taking account of limitations.” The third chapter in the variety of its “problematic situations” received the passionate attention of the Fathers, reaching a high moment in fact in the exchange on the more difficult points. The pastoral tonality of this chapter was taken up and confirmed many times (cf. numbers 104-111). Belonging to Christ, who loves the Church, making her his Body in the Word and in the Eucharist, is the inexhaustible source to “accompany” all the situations, which are rooted on Baptism, which sometimes remains a dead letter, but not impermeable to being always reanimated by the Spirit. With this cipher the pastoral accompaniment was developed for the different situations.
1) Cohabitation and civil marriages. Although evaluating these different experiences critically, the Fathers affirmed forcefully the need to lead them to maturation with a proximity that takes away the illusion of the experiment, fostering paths of human maturation, growth of faith and working, housing and cultural conditions adapted to berth a definitive matrimonial choice.
2) The separated, the divorced faithful to the bond, and one-parent families. The Synodal Fathers expressed cordial affection and profound admiration for those who remain faithful to the Sacrament. They think a great endeavor of human and spiritual support is necessary, as well as a attentive and solicitous closeness of the Christian communities to these situations that remain faithful to the matrimonial bond, assuring them also of concrete help.
- Processes of annulment. The gift of the recent motu proprio has opened the way to a slimming and to an effective closeness to the history of persons, though not derogating the serious criteria of verification of the truth of the bond. The Fathers hope that the application will be able to converge on good common practices.
- Remarried divorced persons. The Fathers agreed on four points: to remove some forms of liturgical, educational and pastoral exclusion still existing; to promote ways of human, family and spiritual integration on the part of priests, expert couples and Consultors, geared to participation in Communion, the present Doctrine remaining firm; to discern in internal forum under the guidance of the Bishops and of designated priests the individual situations with common criteria in keeping with the virtue of prudence, educating the Christian communities to hospitality; to entrust to the Holy Father further reflection on the relation between the communion and medicinal aspect of Eucharistic Communion, in reference to Christ and to the Church.
- Mixed marriages and disparity of worship. The Fathers ask for a pastoral approach, especially to defend the woman and situations of fragility.
- Families with homosexual persons . The Fathers recommend to direct pastoral attention to families with persons with homosexual tendencies, and to the preparation of competent workers. They invite to deeper anthropological reflection on the subject. They also point out the undue economic-legislative pressure to introduce laws that equate civil unions to matrimony
IV. To fructify. Faithful to the Lord’s gift, it is also able to ‘fructify.” The evangelizing community is always attentive to the fruits, because the Lord wants it to be fecund. It takes care of the seed and does not lose peace because of the darnel.” The subject of generation must be made object of a catechesis that promotes the beauty of openness to the gift of life for the family and for society. The desire of a numerous family clashes with the economic-cultural conditioning that diminishes the desire for a more generous birth-rate, and requires family policies in support of the fecundity of the family. The educational enterprise becomes increasingly a unanimous endeavor that requires the collaboration of the family, of the school, in particular the Catholic school, and of other social subjects.
V. To celebrate. “Finally, the joyous evangelizing community is always able to “celebrate.” It celebrates and rejoices over every small victory, every step forward in evangelization.” The Jubilee of Mercy is perhaps the “outside text” of these intense days of Synod, which opens the doors of a tender and at the same time exacting mercy. A Father said: at the end of these weeks I would like to ask the Pope to give impetus to renewed attention to the family as such and to the situations of wounded families. We entrust these reflections to you, Holy Father, and to the whole Church with great hope.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]