Marriage experts and marriage advocates from all over the world have signed an open letter addressed to Pope Francis and the members of the upcoming Synod on the Family.
The letter focuses on the greatest challenges affecting the family in the world today and vigorously reiterates timeless truths about marriage.
Signed by 48 scholars and leaders from several countries, both Catholic and non-Catholic, the letter was sent to the Vatican in June through the good offices of the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
It does not engage the problem of Communion for divorced Catholics, but is dedicated to other issues that the signatories believe the upcoming Synod, and the one to take place next year, should address.
I strongly endorse this letter. Let’s pray that at least a few of these good ideas can take root during and after the Synod in October. The failure of nerve towards the reality, perpetuity, and deep goodness of marriage is extremely profound, and goes hand in hand with a failure of nerve about the common social order and the goodness and wisdom of the Creator.
I have no great proposals myself, but I do recommend you read this letter, choose at least one proposal you can really get behind, and then pray and work for it on a daily basis.
At the same time, as one friend pointed out, one key issue which the letter does not address, is the contraceptive mentality itself.
“Despite what many Europeans bishops may contend these days, the greatest challenge facing the family has little to do with the divorced and civilly remarried being unable to receive communion. It is the complete misunderstanding of marriage, … and the de facto tolerance of contraception by the vast majority of Catholics [and their pastors] that is the real crisis facing the Church today. If society fails at marriage and the family, the faith and culture collapse. There is no evangelization, no Church as a field hospital, if the family is destroyed by the self inflicted wound of contraception.”
Let’s hope–because hope is a supernatural virtue–that addressing this decades-old crisis takes front and center at the Synod in October, instead of issues like, say, how to accommodate more same-sex baptisms, how to incorporate more transsexual lectors, how to facilitate greater involvement in youth ministry by cohabiting couples, and so on. Like I say, though, hope is a supernatural virtue.
Lastly, you or someone you know may be slightly confused about the Church’s teaching on contraception, so, while I recommend you read Pis IX’s Casti Connubii (1930) and Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (1968), here is a brief explanation by John F. Kippley which will help defuse a very common liberal objection:
“[N]o one today is arguing that the evil of marital contraception is its use of an artifact. After all, when married heterosexuals practice fertility awareness, and then engage in the contraceptive practices of sodomy, or mutual masturbation, to avoid abstinence during the fertile time, they are using their own organs, not anything artificial. The Cardinal has to know that the traditional argument has been that marital contraception is contrary to nature, and he has to know that the argument from natural law is criticized in certain quarters. But as a theologian, he also has to be aware that some, or many, now argue that the essence of the sin of marital contraception is its contradiction of the marriage covenant.“