The Synod has the possibility of being a watershed moment in Catholic history, on a par with Vatican II. As it was in 1964, there are those who oppose the whole idea and those who have great hopes.
The media has focused attention on how the Synod will handle two issues: divorced and remarried Catholics, plus gay marriages. But there is so much more at stake.
The world’s leaders will have a stake in the outcome, since so many national policies are not family-friendly.
Non-Catholics will have a stake, for the outcome will either confirm the bias that law and tradition take priority, or that we truly do care more about the lives of individual human beings.
Single people will be affected. It is my hope that the Synod will remember that singles are part of their own families but are also part of parish families. So often they get short shrift. The Church is so couple-centered that singles feel left out.
Migrants and immigrants and refugees will have a stake, because so often political considerations serve to separate families rather then re-unite them with each other.
Unborn children, the handicapped and the elderly, which Pope Francis so often calls the “throw-away people”, will have strong voices speaking on their behalf.
I pray that the Synod delegates will be humble in the face of complicated problems that have been around for centuries. There are no simple answers. Simply repeating church teaching won’t make any difference. Allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to go to Communion is necessary and compassionate, for example, but it will not cure what ails families.
Pope Francis is right. We have to respond pastorally to the facts on the ground and not try to impose an ideological solution based on some ideal that rarely exists in the real world.
Spirit of the Living God, be with us please.