Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Synod on the Family, Chapter 1

Now that I've summarized Chapters 2-4 of the document that was produced by the Catholic Church's Synod on the Family, let me go back and summarize Chapter 1. I didn't like it as much as the others, since it's mainly just a list of problems, without any solutions offered.

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Marriage is a sacrament of love, where two hearts are joined together in an unbreakable bond. "The goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life!". Love can't be reduced to momentary passion or fleeting romance, because love is not an end it itself. Rather, love is geared towards the other person, and it wants to continue until death. When two people freely devote themselves to each other, "God’s love is made present and is experienced. In the Catholic faith, marriage is a sacred sign in which God’s love becomes effective in his Church."

That is the ideal for marriage and family life. Now let's look at the reality of marriage and family life. There are many problems that families around the world are facing.

1. People and families are getting less support from social structures than they have in the past.
2. Some societies are promoting an exaggerated individualism, which causes people to think only about themselves, and to only focus on possessing and gratification. That naturally hurts their families.
3. Other places believe religion is just a private matter, meaning it can't be part of public life. That limits families. Further, the public life in these places seem to be focused mainly on social status and economic success.
4. There are extremist fanatics, both political and religious, whose hostile ways have caused much misery and suffering in family life.
5. Many people are deliberately not getting married, and they avoid starting families for a number of reasons, ranging from fear of overpopulation to not wanting to making a definitive commitment.
6. In some places, the expectations for families are way too high and excessive, which causes tension when people can't live up to an impossible ideal.
7. There is a strain of feminism which believes that women should never have children, ever. On the other hand, some feminist strains believe that a woman should have children, solely for the purposes of self-affirmation. Both viewpoints cause problems.
8. There is a new gender ideology, which threatens to remove the anthropological foundation of the family.
9. Conflict, poverty and migration cause problems for families. In many of these places, family are forcibly uprooted or shattered.
10. Social inequality and burdensome economic policies make it hard to care for children, the sick, and the elderly. These situations can lead to problems with addiction.

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That's it for now! I might read/summarize the rest of the document someday. Part 2 looks at the concept of the family from a religious standpoint, while Part 3 of the document is about the mission of the family and what the church should do today.

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