2014 Religious Trends
The Gospel of the Family, Part 1
The working title of the gathering is "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization." That title itself is important, for it suggests that the primary interest of the synod is evangelization—telling the story of the gospel—and asking what it means for families. Pope Francis famously described the Church as a "field hospital for sinners," and this metaphor applies to the challenge of the synod as well.
The pastoral care of families, far from limiting itself to a legal point of view, has a mission to recall the great vocation of love to which each person is called and to help a person live up to the dignity of that calling. (80)
The document points to three main areas of triage:
how the Gospel of the Family can be preached in the present-day; how the Church's pastoral care programme for the family might better respond to the new challenges today; how to assist parents in developing a mentality of openness to life and in upbringing their children. (158)
Throughout the document, there is an "accent on mercy" (preface), meaning that the Church aims not to condemn anyone. Rather, it aims to "proclaim the beauty of the vocation to love." The gospel of the family is primarily good news about how the lifelong vocation of loving another person for life, and being willing to bear and raise children, is transformed by divine mercy.
Tim Muldoon holds a Ph.D. in Catholic systematic theology and is an award-winning author and Catholic theologian of the new evangelization.