Synod on the Family – Questions for consideration by Laity

Gatherings in Pastoral Areas to reflect on
The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World
in preparation for the Synod of Bishops in October 2015
Please note that the questions and paragraphs offered in this pack are
to encourage reflection by parishioners and others involved in family ministry.
Anybody is most welcome to offer a comment on any paragraph from the Lineamenta,
or on any other issue related to the work of this Synod.
The full text of the Lineamenta is available on the diocesan website, or may be obtained by contacting the Diocesan Office at 047-81019 or
Anyone wishing to make an individual submission is most welcome to do so, to:
Clogher Diocesan Office
Bishop’s House, Monaghan, Co Monaghan.

The deadline for receipt of comments is 6 March 2015

It would be most helpful if you could read the selected paragraphs from the Lineamenta,
and the Questions offered to aid the reflection on these paragraphs,
before attending the gathering in your local Pastoral Area.
The gatherings are open to all.

Section 1: The Family in God’s Salvific Plan
Synod Paragraph
Jesus, who reconciled all things in himself, restored marriage and the family to their original form (Mk 10:1-12). Marriage and the family have been redeemed by Christ (Eph 5:21-32), restored in the image of the Holy Trinity, the mystery from which every true love flows. The spousal covenant, originating in creation and revealed in the history of salvation, receives its full meaning in Christ and his Church. Through his Church, Christ bestows on marriage and the family the grace necessary to witness to the love of God and to live the life of communion. The Gospel of the Family spans the history of the world from the creation of man in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn 1: 26-27) until it reaches, at the end of time, its fulfillment in the mystery of the Christ’s Covenant with the wedding of Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9) (cf. John Paul II, Catechesis on Human Love).

What is being done to demonstrate the greatness and beauty of the gift of indissolubility so as to prompt a desire to live it and strengthen it more?
For discussion:
1. What understanding do couples have of the indissolubility of Marriage?
2. Does the Church do enough to help couples increase and strengthen their desire to live together permanently?
3. What do you understand about Marriage as a Sacrament?
4. Suggest ways in which people can be helped to live out their vows.
5. Do you believe God to be part of your marital life? Explain

Section 2: The Truth and Beauty of the Family and Mercy towards Wounded Families
Synod Paragraph
The Church, a sure teacher and caring mother, recognizes that the only marriage bond for those who are baptized is sacramental and any breach of it is against the will of God. At the same time, the Church is conscious of the weakness of many of her children who are struggling in their journey of faith. “Consequently, without detracting from the evangelical ideal, they need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively occur. […] A small step in the midst of great human limitations can be more pleasing to God than a life which outwardly appears in order and passes the day without confronting great difficulties. Everyone needs to be touched by the comfort and attraction of God’s saving love, which is mysteriously at work in each person, above and beyond their faults and failings”(Gaudium Evangelii, 44).
What can be done so that persons in the various forms of union between a man and a woman “in which human values can be present” might experience a sense of respect, trust and encouragement to grow in the Church’s good will and be helped to arrive at the fullness of Christian marriage?
For discussion
1. For those on the margins or whose family situation has changed and who feel like they have no place in the Church or part to play in it, how can the faith community help while remaining faithful to the Gospel?
2. How might the Church attract towards the Sacrament of Marriage those couples who are living together and couples married civilly?
3. How does the Christian community care sufficiently for families experiencing difficulties so that they can experience the love of God?
4. List some of the social and economic inequalities suffered by many struggling families.
5. How might the Church at parish and diocesan level respond to some of the inequalities you have listed?

Section 3: Accompanying Married Couples in the Initial Years
Synod Paragraphs
While continuing to proclaim and foster Christian marriage, the Synod also encourages pastoral discernment of the situations of a great many who no longer live this reality. Entering into pastoral dialogue with these persons is needed to distinguish elements in their lives that can lead to a greater openness to the Gospel of Marriage in its fullness. Pastors ought to identify elements that can foster evangelization and human and spiritual growth.
All families should, above all, be treated with respect and love and accompanied on their journey as Christ accompanied the disciples on the road to Emmaus. In a particular way, the words of Pope Francis apply in these situations: “The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this ‘art of accompaniment’, which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting a closeness and compassion which, at the same time, heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life” (Evangelii Gaudium, 169).
The pastoral accompaniment of couples in the initial years of family life — as observed in synodal discussion — needs further development. What are the most significant initiatives already being undertaken? What elements need further development in parishes, dioceses or associations and movements?
For discussion
1. How can families and associations/family movements be an ongoing support to families in the initial years?
2. Do couples have a sense that the life they live is making some positive statement to the wider community beyond the home? Explain.
3. What is being done at parish and diocesan level to travel with young couples on their journey?

Section 4: Pastoral Care of Persons with Homosexual Tendencies
Synod Paragraph
Some families have members who have a homosexual tendency. In this regard, the synod fathers asked themselves what pastoral attention might be appropriate for them in accordance with Church teaching: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” Nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4.)
How can the Christian community give pastoral attention to families with persons with homosexual tendencies? What are the responses that, in light of cultural sensitivities, are considered to be most appropriate? While avoiding any unjust discrimination, how can such persons receive pastoral care in these situations in light of the Gospel? How can God’s will be proposed to them in their situation?
For discussion
1. How can we respond, as individuals, to people of same-sex attraction and their families?
2. How can we, as a Christian Community, respond to people of same-sex attraction and their families?
3.. How can the Teaching Church provide pastoral care to people of same-sex attraction and their families?

Section 5: The Role of Family in Evangelization
Synod Paragraph
The Church assumes a valuable role in supporting families, starting with Christian Initiation, by being welcoming communities. More than ever, these communities today are to offer support to parents, in complex situations and everyday life, in their work of raising their children, accompanying children, adolescents and young people in their development through personalized pastoral programmes, capable of introducing them to the full meaning of life and encouraging them in their choices and responsibilities, lived in the light of the Gospel. Mary, in her tenderness, mercy and maternal sensitivity can nourish the hunger of humanity and life itself. Therefore, families and the Christian people should seek her intercession. Pastoral work and Marian devotion are an appropriate starting point for proclaiming the Gospel of the Family.
Fulfilling their educational mission is not always easy for parents. Do they find solidarity and support from the Christian community? What suggestions might be offered in formation? What steps can be taken to acknowledge the role of parents in raising children, even at the socio-political level?
For discussion
1. Outside the primary national and secondary education system, how might the parish support parents in the Christian education of their children?
2. How might the parish community emphasise the role of every Christian in handing on the faith?

Please feel free to add your comments on any other paragraph or issue here.
Synod Paragraph

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