The 14th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops Rome, 4-25 October 2015 "The vocation and mission of the family in the Church "
The Synod on the Family - will the people of the Church be heard?’
A major achievement of Vatican II was clarifying the importance of the People of God to the life of the Church (Lumen Gentium) – that role needs to guide the imminent Synod assembly on the Family, 4-25 October, 2015.
Catholics for Renewal Inc was established in 2011 at the time of the Australian bishops’ last 5-yearly ad limina visit to the Pope. We wrote an open letter to the Australian bishops and Pope Benedict XVI after a wide consultation with several hundred Catholics seeking renewal of our Church. That Open Letter (linked Here), signed by over 8,500 Australian Catholics focussed on the centralist, legalistic and control approach of the institutional Church so contrary to Jesus’ pastoral care, and identified the issues that remain central to the concerns of the faithful today which are reflected in the crisis in Mass attendance, namely alienation of our children from the church, the unequal treatment of women, support for those whose marriages have failed, people of different sexuality, and the Church’s protection of paedophiles. We stressed the importance of synods and engagement with the `laity in the local Church, including the selection of bishops.
In March 2013, the most promising change in the Church since Vatican II took place with the totally unexpected election of a very pastoral Pope prepared to criticise the Church’s institutional failings. The calling of the Synod of Bishops to consider the pastoral challenges of families is arguably the most important step taken by Pope Francis towards renewal of our Church.
The Synod’s focus on the family presents an opportunity to expose the desperate need for major changes in the institutional Church. But that won’t happen without the involvement of the faithful envisaged by Vatican II. As the synod approaches, we suggest that a key question is: “Will the people of the Church be heard?”
We consider this question in examining the following:
The Synod on the Family is a very real opportunity for the Church to renew and to focus on its God-given mission in the world. The test for this synod is whether the institutional Church is ready to listen to the people of the Church.