Towards the conclusion of the Synod The Church “listens” to the family

At the end of three intense weeks, the Synod Assembly in the Vatican concluded its works. The "Relatio finalis" in the hands of the Pope

“Accompaniment”, “discernment”, as well as concrete proposals at pastoral level. This was the track followed by the 13 small Circles that discussed the third part of the Instrumentum laboris, as made known in the summary released by the Vatican press office on October 21. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the press office, said the summaries have been sent to the Secretariat of the Synod, which will integrate them with 500 “modi” (proposed amendments) on the Instrumentum laboris submitted by 270 synodal fathers. The French Circle moderated by Cardinal Robert Sarah spoke in favour of the current norms regarding access to sacrament, examining however “the possibility of participating in the life of the Christian community”; on the same wavelength the English-speaking Circle moderated by Cardinal George Pell. Despite “the different experiences and approaches” on the theme of remarried divorcees, the French Circle moderated by Maurice Piat has asked to “go” and meet the families, especially those who grew distant”. Detailed proposals were submitted by the English Circle moderated by cardinal Gerard Vincent Nichols: for participants the pastoral approach towards remarried divorcees should start with “reverential listening”, with “attention to the personal stories of those seeking understanding and support” so it many become “accompaniment that promotes a closer sequela of Christ based on the lasting bond of Baptism”, rather that on the question of access to the Eucharist. “As for the situation of those who experienced the failure of their marriage”; the members of the Italian Circle moderated by cardinal Francesco Montenegro agreed on the “need to address them carefully distinguishing between the many different situations, however promoting itineraries of faith, reconciliation and integration within the ecclesial community”, through “attentive and prudent pastoral discernment under the final authority of the bishop”. “Bishops’ Conferences – is the proposal – are called to develop common criteria, appropriate to the situations of the respective particular Churches”. As relates to the norms on remarried divorcees, the summary of the Italian Circle moderated by Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli states: “as for now it is not possible to establish general criteria that include all the cases, which at times appear very diversified”. Hence the appeal is to “dedicated discernment, primarily by the bishop, respectful of the complexity of the different situations”. The members of the Italian Circle moderated by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco concurred on four aspects regarding the pastoral care of remarried divorcees. These are: “Removing certain forms of liturgical, educational, pastoral exclusion that are still in place; promoting itineraries for human, family and spiritual integration by the priests, expert couples, and counselling services; as regards participation in the communion, notwithstanding the current doctrine, to discern within an internal forum under the guidance of the bishop and appointed presbyters the single cases applying common criteria based on the virtues of prudence, educating Christian communities to welcome; entrusting to the Holy Father the reflection on the relationship between the communional and medicament aspects of Eucharistic communion referred to Christ and the Church”. As regards ordinary pastoral care, the 13 Circles highlighted distant and close preparation to marriage. “Offering a permanent way of catechesis that accompanies all stages of life and that involves the families, without being limited to short-term preparation to the sacraments”, is the proposal of the Italian Circle moderated by Cardinal Montenegro. “To accompany”, applied to “all situations rooted in baptism” is the verb echoed within the Italian Circle moderated by Cardinal Bagnasco. Also the English Circle moderated by Monsignor Eamon Martin discussed preparation to marriage, conveying the need for “more complete and concerted” paths. “Remote, near and immediate” preparation to marriage was discussed in the English-speaking Circle moderated by Cardinal Vincent Gerhard Nichols, that conveyed the hopes in “long-term catechesis that considers marriage an itinerary of faith”. The draft text of the “Relatio finalis” will be submitted by the Commission, tasked with presenting it to the Assembly for further discussion during the General Congregation of October 23rd. On Saturday October 24 the “Relation Finalis” will be presented and read in the Assembly Hall with the voting of the “Modi” prior to the presentation of the text to the hands of Pope Francis.

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