Synod on the Family – The Unfolding Story
Deacon William Ditewig, PhD, served as the Executive Director of the Secretariat for the Diaconate for the US Catholic Conference of Bishops from 2002 – 2007. He is a professor at Santa Clara University and directs the diaconate, faith formation, and pastoral planning programs for the Diocese of Monterey, California.
Deacon Ditewig wrote an excellent review of the synod process in his blog Deacons Today – Servants in a Servant Church. He points out that we have just seen the end of Act One, The Extraordinary Synod, and the curtain is going up on Act Two, The Global Reflection. The current document or “relatio” is now a draft that will be studied by each of the bishops’ conferences around the world. The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has it on the agenda for their November 2014 meeting. Individual bishops will then work with it in their own ways in their individual dioceses. The methods will vary as they did when Rome asked for contributions of ideas and comments on the pastoral needs of families in preparation for the just concluded Extraordinary Synod. Some bishops worked only with their clergy and others held meetings on the issues throughout their dioceses.
Act Three will begin next October with opening of the Ordinary Synod on the Family. The Pope will then take those deliberations and write his own apostolic exhortation. (Pope Francis has already issued his first apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel. )
Deacon Ditewig makes it clear that the current document under consideration is a draft and does not constitute Church teaching. He also points out that there has been a mistranslation into English of the Pope’s remarks. In the Italian original version, the Pope speaks of welcoming homosexuals (accogliere) but it was translated as “to provide for”. In his address, the Pope again says that we should welcome homosexuals, but then he corrects himself and says that welcoming them is not enough. The Pope says we have to go and find them, to seek them out.