Anticipating the Synod on the Family

August 20, 2015

Given the complexities of our culture and the many controversies and difficulties that surround the meaning of marriage and family, the upcoming Synod on the Family marks a moment of historical proportions. It would be difficult to imagine a more crucial time for the Church to reaffirm her teaching on these issues and advise us on how to go about the task of evangelizing our families and our community. It becomes ever more likely that faithful Catholics will soon be called on to witness to the truth in ways we have not had to risk in a very long time.

How can we prepare for a task so fundamental to Christians?

First, this new demand will require us to prepare on a spiritual level, to engage more deeply in the life of prayer and of the sacraments, to discern our own calling, to diligently practice the virtues. But we will also need to learn to express our faith in ways that help others to hear and to penetrate its meaning. Now more than ever, the Church needs well-formed, well-trained lay ministers and theologians.

Earlier this August I attended a very important conference entitled “Living the Truth in Love: Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters Experiencing Same Sex Attraction.” The conference was co-sponsored by the Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and Courage. Almost 400 people attended, hoping to gain insight into the question on everyone’s mind: how to minister to those experiencing same-sex attraction without losing our grip on the truth about the human person. My own contribution was a paper on the anthropology proposed by St. John Paul II, a synthesis of Thomism and phenomenology which, as it turns out, sheds light on this question in profound ways. But the conference as a whole made real progress toward a common understanding of how to navigate this difficult terrain.

As some of you may know, next spring we will be offering a course on the thought of Pope John Paul II. The course will explore the relevance of his project for the many complexities we face in our contemporary culture, including the thorny issue of evangelizing those with same-sex attraction. We look forward to bringing the insights from the conference to our work together in the months ahead.

Deborah Savage
August 20, 2015