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Posted by on Oct 5, 2014

Extraordinary Synod on the Family Begins

Extraordinary Synod on the Family Begins

 

Shortly after his election, Pope Francis called for an Extraordinary Synod of the bishops of the Catholic church to meet in Rome. The meetings of this synod began today, October 5, and will continue for 2 weeks (October 5 – 19, 2014).

A synod is a gathering of leaders of a church community in which questions of doctrine or administration are addressed. In the Roman Catholic Church, a synod is a meeting of bishops. Synods have been regularly scheduled meetings since Vatican II, but extraordinary synods may be called by the Pope to address specific issues. This is only the third Extraordinary Synod since the Council ended.

The Synod which has just begun has as its focus the family, specifically, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” Pope Francis not only called the bishops to Rome, he invited the people of the church to gather as well and Saturday evening, before the Synod opened, he led the people and the assembled bishops in prayer to the Holy Spirit. “May the Wind of Pentecost blow upon the Synod’s work, on the Church, and on all of humanity,” Francis prayed. “Undo the knots which prevent people from encountering one another, heal the wounds that bleed, rekindle hope.”

In his homily for the opening Mass of the Synod, Pope Francis preached on the readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A, the vineyard of the Lord. He reminded those gathered, “Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent. We are all sinners and can also be tempted to ‘take over’ the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can ‘thwart’ God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit.”

In the synod, the bishops, having consulted with the people of their dioceses around the world, will wrestle with pastoral issues faced by many families, including questions of divorce and remarriage, reform of the annulment process, contraception, celibacy, and other topics. This first meeting is a time for discussion and prayer. No decisions on policy will be made until a second meeting next year.

As we enter this time of study and consideration by our bishops, we join with Pope Francis in his prayer for the Synod and in praying the Rosary.

 

Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod
composed by Pope Francis

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
In you we contemplate
The splendor of true love,
To you we turn in trust.

 Holy Family of Nazareth,
Grant that our families too
May be places of communion and prayer,
Authentic schools of the Gospel
And small domestic Churches.

 Holy Family of Nazareth,
May families never again
Experience violence, rejection and division:
May all who have been hurt or scandalized
Find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
May the approaching Synod of Bishops
Make us once more mindful
Of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
And its beauty in God’s plan.

 Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Graciously hear our prayer. Amen.

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