The Synod of Bishops in Rome concluded last Sunday, 19 October, with the beatification of Pope Paul VI. It has grabbed more than a few headlines in recent weeks even in the secular press, and unsurprisingly these headlines have focussed on those areas where the Church and secular western society differ in their practice, namely the challenges faced when homosexuality or marriage breakdown make it difficult to live in accordance with the Church’s moral teaching.
These are real challenges, affecting all of us directly or indirectly in one way or another. But the theme of the Synod was “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the context of Evangelisation”, a much broader topic.
The context is Evangelisation – that is, the spreading of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is Good News for everyone, without exception, regardless of background, sexual orientation, what has happened to their marriage. Everyone has a place in the family of the Church, and every family has a place in the Church.
At the same time, we must remember that the Gospel always presents us with Challenges. The Synod set itself the task of listening to those challenges, looking to Christ and confronting the challenges in a pastoral setting. This task is not yet complete, but will continue over the next year until the next Synod gathering throughout the Church.
As we all continue to pray and ponder let us not forget that, whatever else our faith is, it is both good news and challenging. Anything which does not bring good news is not the Christian faith; and anything which does not challenge is not the Christian faith.
The Bishops of the Synod “ask you walk with us towards the next Synod. The presence of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their modest home hovers over you. United to the Family of Nazareth, we raise to the Father of all our petition for the families of the world:
“Father, grant that parents may have a home in which to live in peace with their families.
“Father, grant that children may be a sign of trust and hope and that young people may have the courage to forge life-long, faithful commitments.
“Father, grant to all that they may be able to earn bread with their hands, that they may enjoy serenity of spirit and that they may keep aflame the torch of faith even in periods of darkness.
“Father, grant that we may all see flourish a Church that is ever more faithful and credible, a just and humane city, a world that loves truth, justice and mercy.”