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Marriage preparation major focus for synod participants

Views shared: Pope Francis greets auditors of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family as he arrives for the afternoon session on October 10. Photo: CNS

Views shared: Pope Francis greets auditors of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family as he arrives for the afternoon session on October 10. Photo: CNS

By Paul Dobbyn

BETTER preparation for couples planning marriage and for men studying for the priesthood have been two significant but overlooked topics frequently discussed in the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome.

Brisbane’s John Paul II Centre for Family and Life director Dr Ray Campbell said, after looking at daily summaries from the synod being held in Rome from October 5 until Sunday, October 19, these issues had been discussed in nearly every session.

“The media has tended to focus upon the issues of divorce and re-married Catholics, and the Church’s response to people of same-sex attraction,” he said.

“However, the synod also spoke frequently of the need for a longer and much more detailed preparation for marriage, recalling that it is a lifelong vocation.

“Another recurring theme has been the need for the better preparation of priests so that they may present a better catechesis on marriage and family life and hence better support the family.

“Perhaps we will see some specific recommendations on these issues in the synod’s final report.”

Four Australians were among lay people who attended the extraordinary synod.

They were World Organisation of the Ovulation Billings Method in Australia co-ordinator Joan Clements, of Melbourne; Sydney archdiocese’s Life, Marriage and Family Centre director Christopher Meney; and chairs of the Australian bishops’ Catholic Marriage and Family Council Dr Ron and Mavis Pirola, of Sydney. Dr Campbell said it was hard to know what outcomes to expect out of the extraordinary synod.

“The synod is titled ‘the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation’,” he said.

“So its main aim has been to identify the challenges facing the family.

“It is difficult to say whether new pastoral strategies will emerge from this synod or whether that will be the work of the next synod.

 “It has been announced that the ordinary synod to be held in October next year will have as its theme ‘The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world’.

“The intended relationship between the two synods is not clear at this point.”

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