Archbishop Coleridge on challenges facing Synod on Family

13/10/2015 11:45 (Vatican Radio)

  • The risks of idealizing marriage and family life.
  • The task of holding together diverging views from different parts of the globe.
  • The need for new, more user-friendly language to make sure the Church’s message is being heard.

These are just three of the major challenges emerging as participants at the Synod of Bishops on the Family conclude their second round of small group work on Tuesday, before reconvening for their 8th General Congregation on Wednesday morning.

At this half way point through the three-week meeting, Philippa Hitchen spoke about some of these emerging themes with Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, who’s in charge of presenting the results of one of the English working groups…

Archbishop Coleridge says there is “a real danger in this Synod” of speaking about the family in a “highly idealized and somewhat romanticized and disembodied way” that does not relate to the reality of peoples’ lives…There is a tendency to look back to an imagined ‘golden age of the family’, he says, in which there was a mum, a dad and three or four children, but that is no longer the reality for so many people today and if the Synod doesn’t acknowledge that, it will simply mean the bishops talking to each other in ways that are “incomprehensible to other people”.

“As celibate, male bishops”, the Archbishop says, it is essential “to make sure we are in touch with the realities of peoples’ lives in families – otherwise the Synod will not succeed.  He describes the bishops as “antennas” who should be listening and engaging with families “in all their variety and complexity”.  Rather than speaking of a crisis of family life, he says “what’s really in crisis is our own, sometimes too narrow, understanding of what marriage and the family is”…

Talking about the challenge of bringing together so many different perspectives being voiced at the Synod, Archbishop Coleridge says “We came to feel that there are issues that need to be addressed, analysis that needs to be done and decisions that need to be taken at the local or regional level.”

While he believes all the Church leaders see themselves as “called by God to safeguard and promote the truth that has been revealed”, he adds the bishops “must be careful about deciding what we can and what we can’t negotiate”….

Discussing the risks of using “church speak” which fails to communicate the Church’s message to contemporary audiences, Archbishop Coleridge says just as the Second Vatican Council was “a language event” that spoke to people in a new way, so this Synod must find “new, fresh, illuminating ways” of speaking to people today…..

Source: Vatican Radio

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