Marriage and family life have shaped the church and civilizations for years. Marriage and family life are central to the church and to all societies. They are the key elements that are at the core of every faith community and every society. The health of the faith community and society is dependent on the health of marriage and the family.
Marriage and family life patterns are changing. They are changing so rapidly that some are calling it a social revolution. We are even challenging the traditional definition of marriage of being the union of one man and one woman. We are caught up in the storm of worldwide broad cultural changes.
These broad secular cultural changes are bringing about a fundamental change of attitude toward the sacredness of marriage and the family. In our misguided quest to create a balanced, healthy and joyful life, we seem to have forgotten the core values that promote the importance and sacredness of the human person, marriage and family life.
Marriage and the family are such basic units in our faith-communities that we should put all our efforts into keeping our marriages strong, alive and vital. Pope Francis and the bishops of our church believe that marriage and family life can be strengthened. They believe that marriage and family happiness can be improved even in the face of the greatest secular challenges.
The 2015 Synod of Bishops will look deeply at the challenges that impact marriage and family structures. It will take an internal look at the sacrament of marriage. It will look at how the church can best communicate its essential message about marriage and the family.
The 2015 Synod of Bishops will look at what it does well to communicate the central teachings of the church about the sacrament of marriage. It will look at where it can improve on the language it uses to present the message of the Gospel about marriage to both the old and the young.
The 2015 Synod of Bishops will focus in particular on what it does well for the pastoral support of marriage and the family. It will focus on where it can renew its strategies for the pastoral support of marriage and the family.
The 2015 Synod dialogue will include how to remove obstacles to the practice of the faith for some divorced and remarried. It will include how to welcome gay and lesbian people into the church.
The 2015 Synod of Bishops will not compromise the church’s traditional teaching on marriage and the family. It will not diminish its belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife and they become one body” (Gen. 2; 24).
The 2015 Synod of Bishops will renew its teaching that marriage is about the stable, loving and permanent union of a man and a woman. It will emphasize that it is within this union children are generated and children are educated.
Sociological studies have shown that the two-parent family is the best soil in which to raise children. The biological parents have long been recognized as the best role models in a child’s life. Children long to know the two people who brought them into the world.
At the same time, Pope Francis and the bishops will search for new and better ways to recognize the equality of all sexes. All are created equal in the mind and heart of God. All are destined to live with God forever.
At the same time, Pope Francis and the bishops will not want to change the Christian definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And this has become a contemporary controversial core issue for churches and societies all over the world.
The 2015 Synod of Bishops will search for new and better ways whereby the grace of the sacrament of marriage is made available to all Christian couples who desire the blessings of the sacrament of marriage.
Pope Francis and the bishops will challenge all married men and women to foster the values of love, permanency, and fruitfulness as the essentials of married life. We are called to “Increase and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1; 28).
Msgr. Thomas J. Morgan is a retired priest of the Diocese of Camden.