Bishop Tim Thornton (photo right) Anglican Bishop of Truro attended the Pope’s Synod on the Family held in Rome over recent weeks. Bishop Tim was widely appreciated for his faithful and attentive attendance and contributions, both in his small group and by his intervention in the plenary. My impression was that, as someone deeply involved in Family Network ministry in the UK and internationally, he encouraged the Synod to see the family as a dynamic entity, a community of life and love which is always evolving and growing and changing. This can mean the life of the Christian family cannot be fully contained in one set of descriptions and in one definition from one culture, but needs to be seen as a spirit-filled organism which develops and adapts, while retaining its essential God given character.
The final outcomes of the Synod on marriage and divorce encouraged a pastoral ministry of listening , care and accompaniment as people work out their response to Christ’s call on their lives and their domestic arrangements and challenges. The teaching of the Catholic Church is not altered, but its implementation and expression will be governed even more by the compassion of Christ, and move naturally into the opportunities for the Pope Francis’s call for a Year of Mercy which lies open before us all in 2016.
It is so heartening to see the Roman Catholic Church work very hard on synods, on their procedure, on the research before them and on the careful use of the texts which come out of them. This is consistent with the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Comission (ARCIC II) which called for greater synodality . Like Acts 15 we see a method which is as old as the beginnings of the Church itself offering the Body of Christ a sense of its own make up, and its choices under God. In Acts 15 the high ground emerged as good, holy, common ground: May it be so for the outcomes of this current synodical process of the Synod on the Family.
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