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Do not limit the horizon

· ​The Pope’s call during the third general congregation of the Synod of Bishops on the family ·

On Tuesday morning, 6 October, the Synod assembly concluded its discussion of Part I of the Instrumentum laboris, dedicated to the theme: “Considering the challenges of the family”. In the afternoon the Fathers began the circuli minores, which will continue until the general discussion resumes in the morning of Friday the 9th.

At the beginning of the congregation, after a presentation by the General Secretary, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Pope took the floor to reaffirm that the current synod is a continuance of that which was celebrated last year. With regard to the Instrumentum laboris, Francis emphasized that it is the result of the Relatio synodi combined with contributions added later, which was approved by the Post-Synod Council – which met in the presence of the Pope – and which provides the basis for the continuing debate and discussions of the coming days. In this context, the contributions of the various linguistic groups are of primary importance. The Pope also recalled that the three official documents of last year’s Synod include both his initial and final discourses, and the Relatio synodi. The Pontiff underscored that Catholic teaching on marriage has not changed and he then cautioned the congregation against giving the impression that the sole issue of the Synod is that of communion to people who divorce and remarry, reminding the assembly not to limit the Synod’s horizons.

Thirty Synod Fathers took the floor during Tuesday morning’s congregation. Among the themes touched upon were the need to welcome people in their actual circumstances and to find the paths of help and accompaniment for those who have experienced failure. Emphasis was also placed on the importance of marriage formation, so as to foster couples’ awareness regarding their choice, thereby preventing possible wounds, rather than tending them. There was also reference to the value of dialogue and of contact among generations, in order not to detract from basic family values. Specific solutions were also hypothesized based on individual local and continental contexts.

On Monday afternoon, 5 October, the second general congregation was held in the presence of the Pope. The 25 scheduled interventions along with the 17 open discussions that followed considered responses to the challenges and difficulties that today’s families face, such as loss of faith, turmoil arising from violence, persecution and migration. In the afternoon discussions were held on directions to take in pastoral care: a lifelong pastoral care of the family. People need accompaniment and support as they face society’s challenges. They also need help to grow in the steadfast love which guarantees their stability as a couple.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 20, 2018

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