Marriage and Family Life
Synod preparation: A note from Bishop Richard Pates
My dear friends,
Recently, Pope Francis announced two opportunities in the next two years for the worldwide church to reflect on the pastoral challenges to the family. The first will be an Extraordinary General Assembly of bishops throughout the world (Extraordinary Synod) in October, 2014. The other is an Ordinary Synod a year later, in the fall 2015. The Extraordinary Synod, themed, "Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization," will seek to provide analysis of the situation of marriage and family throughout the world while seeking to articulate credible ways to proclaim and live the Gospel of love within this varied context. The Ordinary Synod will seek to formulate "working guidelines" in the pastoral care of persons and families.
In preparation for the Extraordinary Synod, the bishops have been provided a "Preparatory Document" and have been asked to invite as many people as possible to respond to the questionnaire included. Providing bishops with a preparatory document before a Synod is not a new practice; what is new, however -- and quite in keeping with our Holy Father's collegial and collaborative emphasis -- is his desire that the questionnaire be distributed universally. The introduction of such controversial topics as cohabitation, Cathoilcs entering civil marriages, divorce and remarriage, contraception, and same-sex marriage is an opportunity to face issues that must be addressed. It is important to note, however, that the questionnaire and the meeting of Bishops are in no way an indication that the Church is considering a departure from the Church's teaching on marriage and family. On the contrary, the Holy Father seeks to pass on this teaching with greater clarity, effectiveness, and in light of the spirit and love of the Gospel.
The document (linked below in Spanish and English) repeats in summary form the Church's teaching on marriage and family, citing Sacred Scripture, Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and some key documents written by past popes.
The questionnaire seeks input from clergy, religious and laity to help define the state of marriage and family life. The survey also asks for statistical data, and for a comparison of the Church's teaching with the practice in the local culture.
You can respond to the questionnaire electronically, in English at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/dmvaticansurvey2013 or in Spanish at https://es.surveymonkey.com/s/dmvaticansurvey2013spanish. Responses can also be submitted in writing. Respondents can reply to as many questions as they like, but the responses must be received by the diocese, whether electronically or via mail, no later than December 20, 2013. All responses will be forwarded to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) by the end of the year.
The USCCB office will send them as submitted to the Vatican by the end of January, 2014; at which time the office for the Synod of Bishop has the responsibility of taking all the resopnses worldwide and converting them into a working document for the October Extraordinary Synod.
The current state of marriage and family life throughout the world presents a challenge to evangelization that cries out for a response.
I suggest you read the "Preparatory Document" before answering the questionnaire: English Spanish.
I realize the wording of the questions may seem "stilted" or different than what we might be accustomed to. This necessarily occurs within the framework of the universal Church. I am confident, however, that the respondent will be able to understand the thrust of the inquiry and provide a cogent repsonse.
Written surveys should be submitted to: Marriage and Family Life Office, Diocese of Des Moines, 601 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50309.
Know of my appreciation for your attentive and thoughtful responses to these questions. All input is welcomed!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
Bishop of Des Moines
Call to prayer
The U.S. Catholic bishops have called for a nationwide effort to advance a movement for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty through prayer, penance and sacrifice. Find out how you can join thousands of Catholics across the country who are responding to their invitation.
Making time for families and faith
Pope John Paul II described families as the domestic church. To make more time for families and faith, Bishop Richard Pates announced May 17, 2012 a new diocesan policy for parish and school facilities on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. The policy is the culmination of a pastoral vision for high school youth that includes a comprehensive approach to adolescent faith formation. See the policy here.
The Diocese of Des Moines offers a number of ministries and resources to support families in their joys and challenges.
Read the first pastoral letter by Bishop Pates, issued May 21, 2010, on adolescent catechesis.