Pastoral Challenges to the Family
by Fr. Jared
Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization
Our Holy Father Pope Francis has decided to convene a Synod of Bishops next year on the theme: Pastoral Challenges of the family in the context of evangelization. He has asked for input on certain questions from Catholics throughout the world. This input will be used in the development of the preliminary document for the Synod. The Pope is asking the faithful for our input on these topics. This is a unique opportunity for each of us. Below is a distilled questionnaire that we ask you to respond to. When responding please note the question number with the response. All responses will be confidential. Please return your responses in the collection basket by the weekend of November 30th/December 1st.
- Briefly describe your understanding of the Church’s teachings on the value of the family contained in the Bible, and other documents since Vatican II? In what way does the Church help you by way of homilies, educational opportunities, and printed materials to live a good family life? What cultural factors hinder your family life?
- Is the idea of the natural law in the union between a man and a woman commonly accepted as such by the baptized in general? How is the union of man and woman challenged in light of civil and Church culture?
- How have Christian families been able to fulfill their vocation of transmitting the faith? In what way have the local Churches and movements on family spirituality been able to create ways of acting which are exemplary?
- In society there exists couples who cohabitate, are divorced and remarried, or live in a union which is not recognized religiously or civilly. How do the baptized live in this irregular situation? Are they aware of it? Are they simply indifferent? Do they feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments? What questions do divorced and remarried people pose to the Church concerning the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation? Among those persons who find themselves in these situations, how many ask for these sacraments? Could a simplification of canonical practice in recognizing a declaration of nullity of the marriage bond provide a positive contribution to solving the problems of the persons involved? If yes, what form would it take? Does a ministry exist to attend to these cases? Describe this pastoral ministry? Do such programs exist on the national and diocesan levels? How is God’s mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the Church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?
- What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union? What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union? In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
- Regarding irregular marriages, how should the particular Churches attempt to meet the needs of the parents of these children in order to provide them with a Christian education?
- What knowledge do Christians have today of the teachings of Humanae vitae on responsible parenthood? Are they aware of how morally to evaluate the different methods of family planning? Could any insights be suggested in this regard pastorally? Is this moral teaching accepted? What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple’s accepting this teaching? What natural methods are promoted by the particular Churches to help spouses put into practice the teachings of Humanae vitae? How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered? How can an increase in births be promoted?
- Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the human person. How can the family be a privileged place for this to happen? What critical situations in the family today can obstruct a person’s encounter with Christ? To what extent do the many crises of faith which people can experience affect family life?
- What other challenges or proposals related to the topics in the above questions do you consider urgent and useful to treat?
Thank you for taking the time to read these questions and reflect upon them. We appreciate your response. If you wish to see and respond to the full list of questions please visit http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20131105_iii-assemblea-sinodo-vescovi_en.html