13. okt. 2014
John Thavis skriver på sin blog bl.a.:
In pastoral terms, the document published today by the Synod of Bishops represents an earthquake, the “big one” that hit after months of smaller tremors.
The relatio post disceptationem read aloud in the synod hall, while defending fundamental doctrine, calls for the church to build on positive values in unions that the church has always considered “irregular,” including cohabitating couples, second marriages undertaken without annulments and even homosexual unions.
Regarding homosexuals, it went so far as to pose the question whether the church could accept and value their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine.
(See UPDATE below, calls for clarification already coming from some synod participants.)
While defending the traditional teachings that reject divorce and gay marriage, the synod said the modern church must focus more on the “positive elements” in such relationships, rather than their shortcomings, and open a patient and merciful dialogue with the people involved. The ultimate aim, it said, is to use these “seeds” of goodness to bring people more fully into the church.
It summed up the pastoral challenge for the church in this way:
"It is necessary to accept people in their concrete being, to know how to support their search, to encourage the wish for God and the will to feel fully part of the Church, also on the part of those who have experienced failure or find themselves in the most diverse situations. This requires that the doctrine of the faith, the basic content of which should be made increasingly better known, be proposed alongside with mercy."
The document clearly reflects Pope Francis' desire to adopt a more merciful pastoral approach on marriage and family issues. It is subject to revisions by the bishops this week, and in its final form will be used as part of a church-wide reflection leading to the second synod session in October 2015.
The relatio emphasized the “principle of graduality” – the idea that Catholics move toward full acceptance of church teachings in steps, and the church needs to accompany them with patience and understanding. And it emphasized the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which leads the church to recognize positive elements even in the “imperfect forms” found outside of sacramental marriage.
The relatio said a “new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation.” Where such unions demonstrate stability, deep affection and parental responsibility, they should be considered a starting point for a dialogue that could eventually lead to sacramental marriage, it said.
It cited situations of couples who choose to live together without marriage for economic or cultural reasons, or those in Africa who enter into traditional marriages in “stages,” and said that in response the church must keep its “doors always wide open.”
“In such unions, it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects,” it said.
In dealing with broken families, couples who have separated or divorced, the relatio said the church must avoid an “all or nothing” approach, and instead engage in patient dialogue with such families in a spirit of respect and love.
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