Vatican City, 26 June 2014 (VIS) – A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office this morning to present the Instrumentum Laboris of the 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (5-19 October 2014) which will focus on “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”. The speakers were Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops; Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, and relator general of the 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France and delegate president; Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, Italy, and special secretary, and Professors Francesco Miano and Pina De Simone.
Cardinal Baldisseri explained that the Instrumentum Laboris consists of three parts, conforming to the themes of the Documento Preparatorio. “The first, dedicated to the Gospel of the family, relates to God's plan, biblical and magisterial knowledge and their reception, natural law and the vocation of the person in Christ”, he said. “The difficulties that arise in relation to natural law can be overcome through more attentive reference to the biblical world, to its language and narrative forms, and to the proposal to thematise and deepen the biblically-inspired concept of the 'order of creation', like the possibility of reinterpreting 'natural law' in a more existentially meaningful way. Furthermore, the role of the family, 'fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another', is that of a privileged space for values such as fraternity, love, respect and solidarity between generations, where dignity is promoted, overcoming individualism and contributing to the common good of society”.
“The second part relates to the pastoral challenges inherent in the family, such as the crisis of faith, critical internal situations, external pressures and other problems. The responsibilities of the pastor include preparation for marriage, increasingly necessary nowadays to enable engaged couples make their decision in terms of their personal adhesion to faith to the Lord, to build their families on solid foundations”.
He emphasised that special consideration would be given to difficult pastoral situations, such as unmarried couples who live together and de facto unions, separated and divorced couples, remarried divorcees and eventual further children, single mothers, those who are in canonically irregular situations and non-believers or non-practising Catholics who wish to marry”. The prelate added that with regard to the phenomenon of unmarried couples who live together and de facto unions, increasingly widespread, “the Church has the duty to accompany these couples in the trust that they are able to bear a responsibility, such as that of marriage, that is not too great for them”. In relation to the question of remarried divorcees, whose irregular condition within the Church is a source of suffering, the Instrumentum Laboris “offers real knowledge of their situation, from which the Church is required to find solutions compatible with her teaching and which lead to a serene and reconciled life. In this respect, the need to simplify the judicial procedures for the annulment of marriage would appear relevant”.
“Regarding same-sex unions, a distinction is made between the contexts in which civil legislation is more or less in favour; there is a need for pastoral care on the part of the particular Churches in these situations, including matters relating to children who may be present”.
The third part first presents themes linked to openness to life, such as knowledge and difficulties in receiving the Magisterium, pastoral suggestions, sacramental praxis and the promotion of a mentality open to life. … With regard to the educative responsibility of parents, difficulty emerges in terms of transmitting faith to children, which is then made concrete in Christian initiation; finally, this is a matter of Christian education in difficult family situations, in which the effects on the children extend to the sphere of faith and methods of celebration of the sacraments”.
Cardinal Baldisseri mentioned that the themes not included in the document will be considered in the Ordinary General Assembly scheduled for 4-25 October 2015, based on the theme “Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the family”. This will be the third stage in the process of reflection on the family, which began with the Consistory held on 20 February 2014.
Finally, he explained that the Instrumentum Laboris offers a vision of the reality of the family in the current context, which represents the beginning of a profound reflection, which will take place in the two stages of the Extraordinary General Assembly (2014) and the Ordinary General Assembly (2015), which are closely linked by the theme of the family based on the light of Christ's Gospel. The results of the first, the Extraordinary Assembly, will be used in the preparation of the Instrumentum Laboris of the subsequent Ordinary Assembly, which will be made known only after the publication of the final document, subject to the decision of the Holy Father.
Given the importance of the Synod, a Day of Prayer for the Synod will be held on Sunday 28 September, and the Eucharist will be celebrated every day during the work of the Synod in the Salus Populi Romanii Chapel in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.