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Synod15: Report From Small Circle Italian ‘C’

“The structure of the text seemed to many to be strongly marked by a Western perspective (European and North American), especially in the description of the aspects and challenges opened by secularization and individualism that marks the consumer societies”

Here is a ZENIT translation of the small group reports from the Italian-language group “C.” 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 “C”

Moderator: Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco

Relator: H.E. Monsignor Franco Giulio Brambilla

The sessions of the Italian Circle C discussed with great care the text of the first part, in its general aspects, in its architecture and in the linguistic development and development of the content of the document. The fruit of the ample analysis brought to light three aspects of a general character.

  1. The structure of the text seemed to many to be strongly marked by a Western perspective (European and North American), especially in the description of the aspects and challenges opened by secularization and individualism that marks the consumer societies. The presence in the Circle of Synodal Members of Western Europe, of Latin America and of other African countries or of the Near East reminded us also of other perspective that must be integrated in the text and that we tried to express in some amendments. Above all, the recommendation emerged  that in the revision of the document one proceed with great care to facilitate the text, to cleanse it from an overly technical language and to enrich it with different points of view. We favored the acceptance of ways that illustrate a range of situations that render the diagnosis offered in the text more responsive to the catholic variety of the Church and to the richness of the human experiences recounted in the text. Also stressed was that the diagnosis offered in the document favors shadows and the effort to make evident the points of positive force that emerge in the picture traced. The ample phenomenology of this first part becomes truly useful if it succeeds in pointing out new ways for the family.
  2. There was much discussion, already from the Document’s title, on the “focal point” of the pastoral intention that moves this Synod on the Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World and on its translation in the architecture of the Document. Beginning with the reading of the first part, many observed that it should appear clearly in the text that the three parts must be read in a profound circularity. The method of “seeing, judging, acting,” which seems to be the guiding thread of the text, is not understood and practiced, understanding the three stages as chronologically successive, but in a strongly intertwined way so that it cannot be “seen” without allowing oneself to be educated by Jesus’ look and by the love for families and peoples. The evangelical proclamation on the family, which considers the family as subject of evangelization, is thus placed at the center of the care of the Church (“to judge”), and must stimulate a new and creative pastoral practice (“to act”) for the initiation of young families, for the support of families with adolescent children and young people and for the integration of families with a wounded heart. A pressing indication emerged for the final draft to connect with significant claims and references the circularity among the three parts. In this regard, our Circle proposes an amendment that anticipates number 10 (on the “Strength and Weakness of the Family Today”) and rewrites it completely as an introductory number to the first part (n. 6).
  3. The third general observation regards the long section entitled “Family and Inclusion” which sometimes makes an impact because of the heterogeneity of perspectives and analyses and which occupied us for almost a whole day of debate. The topic of inclusion is introduced here as a complex of challenges that are linked to the family where some situations (the Third Age, widowhood, the end of life, disability, migrants, children, women, etc.) can become a motive of exclusion, of marginalization, of separation and of new poverty, as grave as material poverties. Our Circle suggests a change of title: “The Family: The Challenges of Inclusion,” removing from the subsequent titles the repetition of the many “challenges” that are attributed to the treatment of several subjects. Many ways proposed by our Circle also intend to read these challenges positively not only for the family to become a place of inclusion, overcoming its regime of separated life (that lives in an “apartment”), but also for the evangelizing mission of the Church. And only with the virtuous co-operation of the family, of the Christian community and of the other social realities can the challenge of inclusion  make headway, involving all the faces of this polyhedron of many turns. The objective is to show that the family is the crossroads  of many integrations  that change the fraternal life of the Church and strengthen the social fabric.
  4. Finally, the Italian Circle C proposes a series of amendments. Some it considers important to enrich the text and makes them available to others for the work of the Central Commission. I mention the topics of the amendments of which the draft of a new text was furnished or parts of the text.
  • Strength and fragility of the family today. This number was rewritten, anticipating n. 10 that turned out to be a somewhat weak conclusion of the first chapter. It was transformed in an incipit that introduces the whole of the first part and opens it to the two subsequent ones. The number indicates in the family, earthly reality and mystery of salvation,  the capacity that it has to incarnate itself in human cultures and to transform them. In it exactly is the strength of the family together with its weakness. To support the family in important moments of transformation of the society is the way with which the Church puts the family at the center of her evangelizing action. The whole first part of the Document describes the “great field” in which to sow the good seed so that it bears fruit.
  • The anthropological change: in number 7 the text proposes an integration and seeks to describe the anthropological change not only in its shadows, but also for the opportunities that it has open for the life of the couple and of the family, valuing the possibilities contained in some strands  of contemporary anthropology.
  • Gender theory: the Circle specifies the implications of number 8 on gender theories, putting more clearly in the light their ideological character and offering families aid to take up again their original right to educate their children in responsible dialogue with other educational subjects.
  • The new forms of poverty: the amendment enriches the reading of the picture of the new poverties pointing out the phenomenons of exploitation of prostitution, selection of girls before birth, the work of minors and the spread of different forms of dependence.
  • The disabled and the Christian community: focused in the main is the Church’s care for families with disabled members, promoting ecclesial paths in catechesis and in the liturgy for bearers of handicaps and a cordial reception on the part of Christian communities.

New order of nn. 31-33 of chapter IV on the subject of the relevance of affective life: proposed is the reordering of the mentioned numbers in this way: n. 31-33-32. Three substituting amendments are also proposed regarding the Church’s support to processes of affective maturation (n. 31), the education of affections in the evolutional development (n. 33) and, finally, the intervention of different education subjects in the formative journey (n. 32).

These are some of the amendments that have sought to give consistency to the three introductory observations. We wish good work to the Commission.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

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