Studies is honoured that Marie Collins has contributed to this issue ‘What the Murphy Report Means to Me’ http://t.co/BC5TXEzIEB
This issue of Studies is largely focused on the forthcoming Synod of the Catholic Church on the family or, to give it its full title, The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World. This takes place in October and, because of the very high expectations Pope Francis’ papacy has aroused in many quarters and of the overwhelming importance of the subject – or range of family-related subjects, since this is in fact what is involved, pace tabloid simplifications – the Synod proposes to treat, its deliberations are being eagerly (or, perhaps in some quarters, anxiously) awaited.
In what follows, five writers place the Synod in context in different ways. Finola Kennedy highlights the ‘difficult task’ given by the Pope to the bishops. Part of the difficulty, not least in Ireland, is the rapidly changing picture of family and marriage, for which she supplies an array of striking statistics. But the task is also challenging because of the way in which they are asked to address it. In the Lineamente or Guidelines, produced after last autumn’s Extraordinary Synod, preparing the way for this Ordinary Synod, they have been asked ‘to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine’. Finding genuinely pastoral solutions will be far from easy and, as Dr Kennedy emphasises, ‘Pope Francis seems to be asking for more than mere cerebral thinking’. The bishops, she suggests, ‘could follow the example of Mary who ‘pondered these things in her heart’ (Luke 2,52).