Vatican City, 10 December 2014 (VIS) – Having concluded his catechesis on the Church, in today’s general audience Pope Francis began a new series dedicated to the family, “a new cycle in this intermediate period between two Synod Assemblies dedicated to this important reality”. Before considering the different aspects of family life, Francis began by speaking about the Synod held last October on the theme “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of new evangelisation”.
The Pontiff first praised the work of the Holy See Press Office during the Synod, and the good work accomplished by the media responsible for covering the assembly. He went on to mention the events and results of the assembly, and emphasised that at no point was there any form of censorship and that the Synod Fathers were entirely free to speak frankly. “The only think I asked of them was that they speak with sincerity and courage, and listen with humility”.
He explained that the Instrumentum laboris always remained the basis of all the interventions that took place, and that this document was the result of a previous consultation involving all of the Church. He remarked that “no intervention challenged the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of Marriage: indissolubility, unity, fidelity and openness to life”. All these interventions, in a second phase, were gathered together and gave rise to the Relatio post disceptationem or the post-discussion report, which was divided into three sections: listening to the context and the challenges to the family; looking steadily at Christ and the Gospel of the family, and comparison with pastoral perspectives. The third phase, the group discussions, followed this first approach at a summary. Finally, at the end of its work, each group presented a report and all the group reports were published immediately, “with transparency, so that what was happening was made known”.
Finally, a commission examined all the suggestions that emerged from the groups and the a Final Report was produced, maintaining the same structure as before – listening, looking to the Gospel and pastoral ministry – which was then sent to all the Episcopal Conferences worldwide to enable discussion prior to the Ordinary Assembly, scheduled for October 2015. As always, a Final Message from the Synod was approved, more concise and informative compared to the Report. The Holy Father remarked that the Synod Fathers “did not argue, but there were animated discussions. This is the freedom of the Church”, and added that there are three official Synod documents: the Final Message, the Final Report, and the Pope’s concluding discourse.
The Bishop of Rome emphasised that the Synod is not a parliament but rather a protected space that allows the Holy Spirit to intervene, and that now the work of prayer, reflection and fraternal discussion must continue in the particular Churches in preparation for the upcoming Assembly. “Let us commend it to the protection of the Virgin Mother, so that she may help us to follow God’s will in making pastoral decisions that offer greater and better help to families”, he concluded.