The Synod on the Family’s final report is here!
After weeks (or really, over a year) of anticipation, the Synod on the Family is finally drawing to a close. Although the Synod won’t be officially over until the closing Mass tomorrow, the final report, called the relazione finale, has just been released. I’ve only begun exploring it, but a few things to note right away:
- Right now, it’s just in Italian. An English translation is likely forthcoming, but if you want a sneak preview, Google Translate will probably give you a rough sense of the text.
- At the end of the document, you can see the vote count. The Synod Fathers voted on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis.
- Interestingly, the only paragraphs that were unanimous were the first two introductory paragraphs, paragraph 62 (on the importance of openness to life in the family), and paragraphs 66-67 (on bringing up children).
- Unsurprisingly, the most controversial paragraphs were paras. 84-86, on integrating the divorced and “remarried” into the life of the Church. Other controversial sections include para. 75, on access to Baptism to those in complex marital situations; and paras. 70-71, on cohabitation (while rejecting it as contrary to the Christian ideal, it recognized that a couple that lives together might be striving for something closer to what Christ calls them).
- With the exceptions of the above paragraphs, it appears that the Synod Fathers were in overwhelming (but generally not unanimous) agreement on the document. Even in the case of the controversial paragraphs, each one was approved by at least two-thirds of the Fathers. (The most controversial paragraph, para. 85, was approved on a 178-80 vote).
- While I’ve only skimmed, the document seems to do exactly what you might expect. It reaffirms the teachings of the Catholic Church, while acknowledging some of the particularly difficult situations in which people find themselves (sometimes, due to factors entirely outside of their own concern).
- I recently chastised those who thought that the Synod on the Family would somehow lead the Church into heresy (which confuses the nature of the Synodal process, and more importantly, underestimates the power of the Holy Spirit). Given that, I’m happy to share this example of Robert Royal’s humility, in admitting that his prior panicking over the Synod was ill-informed and lacking in faith: “It’s very rarely pleasant to have to issue a self-correction, but I’m quite happy to do so today, especially since the error was to underestimate the workings of the Holy Spirit – and even of a Synod of Bishops.” May he be the first of many!
- By the way, the Synod Fathers also released a statement on the situations in the Middle East, Africa, and Ukraine. Lagniappe!