Bishops’ small groups call for simpler, more scriptural language

Members of the Synod of Bishops would like the synod’s text to be clear, straightforward, and accessible so people can be encouraged to live the vocation of marriage and family life, and believe Scripture should be more prominent in the synod’s final text, including examples of holy couples and Jesus’ interactions with families.

The 13 circoli minori (small groups) argued this in their second set of reports, based on scrutiny of and discussions about the second part of the synod’s working document. This part of the Instrumentum Laboris is entitled ‘The Discernment of the Family Vocation’ and includes  a summary of the biblical vision of the family, ways families strengthen their faith and the role the family plays within the Church.

Two groups challenged how the working document lacks a concise definition of marriage, with English Group D, chaired by Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins, calling this “a serious defect”, while at least two groups said the Church needed an in-depth treatise on the Christian understanding of marriage and family life, although French Group A, chaired by Quebec’s Cardinal Gerald LaCroix, said the synod would not have time for this so should focus instead on “the most salient and urgent aspects” of Church teaching.

Most groups insisted the final text should present the lifelong nature of marriage not as a burden but as the blessing that it is. Several groups urged a stronger mention of marriage as a vocation like priesthood and consecrated life and an acknowledgment that strong families are the “seedbed” of strong vocations to all three.