This past Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family.  While some homilists and Hallmark purveyors portray Mary, Joseph and Jesus in an idealized form, Mary's family life was anything but ideal.  Poor, pregnant outside of Jewish norms and at risk under Roman rule, she and Joseph knew suffering.   

Caring for families has become a central theme under Pope Francis.  He has understood many of the ways Catholic families suffer today.  Too often, doctrinal ideals of purity have trumped compassionate care. Too many have left the Church; others suffer in silence.  In response, Pope Francis has launched a two-year synodal process meant to reform the pastoral practices that guide how we care for one another in our common faith life.  

Last October the bishops met at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family and developed a document (Relatio Synodi) that serves as the beginning of the conversation about pastoral practices for the upcoming Ordinary Synod in October 2015.  When they meet again October 4 - 25, 2015, they will, in effect, shape pastoral practices in the Catholic Church for years to come.  

Pope Francis has changed the landscape of the Church by creating a meaningful new place for dialogue.  It is also clear that he seeks practical reforms based on mercy, compassion and love.  This is a welcome change, one that reform minded Catholics have been working for over the course of many decades.  It is a change that we can advance today by our own work.  

Catholics have a right and responsibility to participate fully in the life and leadership of the Church and, over the next ten months, we have a rare opportunity to make an impact on issues close to our hearts. 

Please take the time to 

1) Urge your bishop to create processes for dialogue in your diocese with all the faithful on the issues that will be discussed at the synod.

2) Meet and talk with your bishop about the synod topics that matter to you.

3) Urge your bishop and Catholic leaders to widen the circle of synod invitees to include experts and auditors who can represent many of the groups (Catholics who are divorced and remarried, those in same sex relationships, etc.) who are the subjects of discussion at the synod but not fairly represented in those discussions.  

1.  Send a letter to your bishop asking him to put processes in place for dialogue on the issues that will be discussed at the synod.

2.  Gather a small group (2 - 4) and set up a meeting with your bishop to discuss the issues related to synod (see our resources for talking points and tips).

3.  Send letters to Catholic leaders urging them to widen the circle of invitees so proper representation and effective discussions can truly take place at the synod.

Together we can make a difference in the life of our church!

Pope Francis created a new atmosphere of openness and dialogue at the synod on the family in October 2014.  But it is equally clear that he wants reform.  That reform will take final shape over the next 10 months.  How far it will go will, in part, depend on all of us.  More than ever, we need to engage decision makers in our Church and advocate for needed change.  
CLICK HERE to download resources and letters.  


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