Assembly to tackle ‘disconnected’ Church teachings on the family

Meeting follows publication of responses to the Vatican’s questionnaire on the family

A major pastoral assembly to be held in June will tackle Church teachings on marriage and family in order to help solve the problem of many lay people feeling “disconnected” from them.

News of the key consultative meeting follows the publication of a statement from the Irish bishops last week on the feedback received by the country’s 26 dioceses to the Vatican’s questionnaire on the family ahead of an Extraordinary Synod on the topic to take place in Rome in October at the instruction of Pope Francis.

In their responses, the Irish faithful made it clear that, in some cases, Church teaching is “disconnected from real life experience”, leaving them feeling “guilty and excluded”.

Respondents also identified severe financial hardship, unemployment and emigration, as well as domestic violence, neglect and other forms of abuse, infidelity and constant pressures on ‘family time’ as problems causing difficulties for Irish families.

Bishops acknowledged that many of those who responded expressed particular difficulties with the Church’s teachings on extra-marital sex and cohabitation by unmarried couples, divorce and remarriage, family planning, assisted human reproduction and homosexuality.

However, the special conference being hosted by the Irish Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family in June will now offer Irish Catholics the opportunity to “engage in continued dialogue and discussions in these critical areas”.

Bishop Liam MacDaid, Chairman of the Council for Marriage and the Family, said the conference “will explore how parishes can support families in their calling to live, pass on and share their faith given the pastoral challenges affecting families today”.

“We hope it will help people to focus on the importance of the family in society and collectively come up with

some answers to the challenges families are facing,” he told The Irish Catholic. “The family,” Bishop MacDaid suggested, “will be an important issue for the Church in the coming years, especially considering the emphasis the Holy Father seems to be attaching to it.”

The conference is set to take place in Holy Cross Diocesan Centre, Clonliffe Road, Dublin on June 14, 2014.