Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops


On Sunday October 5th the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will open and conduct its business until October 19th. The theme will be the Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. A Synod of Bishops consists of bishops from different parts of the world who meet at the request of the Holy Father to consider issues affecting the Church and the world. The Synod is subject to the authority of the Holy Father.

A unique contribution to the work of this Synod took place in late 2013 when a questionnaire was sent to Bishops seeking responses to questions about a variety of issues that affect the Family and Marriage. The opinions of the Catholic public were sought. Among those in our diocese who responded were the diocesan Senior Staff, the Presbyteral Council, The Marriage Encounter Community, and the Deacon Council, Pastors who consulted with their parishioners and the Commission of the Office of Hispanic Ministry. The diocesan responses were ably coordinated by Deacon Larry Farmer and Lisa Watson who submitted the Diocese of Camden’s consultation to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The USCCB coordinated all the surveys that were submitted by the dioceses from around our country and then forwarded that summary to Rome to the Secretariat for the Synod. They received similar responses from the dioceses around the world. A document called the Instrumentum Laboris was prepared and this is the working document for the upcoming Synod. That document is available at   www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20140626_instrumentum-laboris-familia_en.html

It contains 159 sections which report on a wide variety of issues such as, contraception, same sex attraction, cohabitation before marriage, the single parent family, divorce and remarriage, the permanence of the marriage bond and a large variety of other issues. It should be kept in mind that the work of the Synod will be based on Catholic doctrine and not public opinion. However, the “polling results” and the many different views they represent have worked their way into the Instrumentum Laboris and will be considered by the Synod. There are many challenges facing the family and the Church must help families face these challenges. There is clearly a lack of understanding of Church teaching on many issues of life and marriage to which the pastoral care of the Church must respond. By prayer we can accompany the deliberations of this Extraordinary Synod asking the Holy Spirit’s guidance on that gathering which will be discussing issues that affect every one of us because the family is both the basic unit of the Church and society. A suggested prayer is:


Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendor of true love,

to you we turn with trust.


Holy Family of Nazareth,

grant that our families too

may be places of communion and prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and small domestic Churches.


Holy Family of Nazareth,

may families never again

experience violence, rejection and division:

may all who have been hurt or scandalized

find ready comfort and healing.


Holy Family of Nazareth,

may the approaching Synod of Bishops

make us once more mindful

of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,

and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

graciously hear our prayer. Amen.


Please, pray it or offer your own prayers to the Lord for the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.