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Oct. 10, 2014

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, convened the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which commenced at the Vatican on October 5 and will conclude on 19 October 2014. The theme of the Synod is: “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation”.

 In the Chapter of the Code of Canon Law relating to synodal assemblies, the Synod of Bishops meets in an extraordinary general assembly when the matter under consideration, while related to the good of the universal Church, requires rapid definition. Through this Synod, the Pope intends to “promote reflection and to guide the path of the community of the Church, with the responsible participation of the episcopate from different parts of the world”.

 Daily updates and press briefings (in Italian, English and Spanish) of what has taken place at the Synod are available at:

 What is the synod of bishops?
The word “synod”, derived from two Greek words syn meaning “together” and hodos meaning “road” or “way” means a “coming together”.
The Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution established by Pope Paul VI on 15 September 1965, in response to the desire of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the positive spirit engendered by that conciliar experience. This assembly of bishops, from around the world, assist the Holy Father by providing counsel on important questions facing the Church in a manner that preserves the Church's teaching and strengthens her internal discipline.
The principal characteristic of the Synod of Bishops is service to the communion and collegiality of the world’s bishops with the Holy Father.

What is the Synod of Bishops currently doing in Rome?
The current Synod of Bishops in Rome will be discussing issues on Marriage, divorce and contraception. Family values will be a highly focussed issue in the current Synod. It will discuss ‘Pastoral Challenges for the family in the context of Evangelization’.

Who are the representatives from India and the Archdiocese of Bombay?
Five people from India, including three Cardinals, are participating in the two-week long extraordinary Synod in Vatican on family life: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, President of the National Bishops' Conference and Latin Church Head, Major Archbishop Mar George Cardinal Alencherry of the Syro Malabar Church and Catholicos Mar Baselios Cleemis of the Malankara Church are attending the Synod as heads of the three rites in India.

 Apart from them, Fr Arulraj Gali, National Director of the Holy Cross Family Ministry in India and Fr Cajetan Menezes, Director, Family Apostolate, Archdiocese of Bombay, are also participating in the Synod.

What are the main topics that are being discussed in the Synod?
The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, in keeping with the theme - The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization - will discuss family life in contemporary society. Discussions will include topics such as contraception, same-sex marriage, divorce and other topics touching on family life.
The themes/topics as covered so far, include: Bring the attractiveness to the family back to the world; Fidelity and love: seeds of sanctification; Marriage as a place of growth for the human person; The Families of the Church attract other families; The Family in the Middle East and North Africa.

The themes for Monday’s discussion was "God's design on marriage and family."
For Tuesday discussion the theme was "The Gospel of the family and natural law,"

Request to pray for the success of the Synod
The Holy Father, Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops have requested that the entire Christian community pray the following prayer for the Synod and its outcome. 

Prayer for the Synod of families
In answer to the call from our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we pray for all those meeting in Rome for the Synod on the Family. May it be ‘a precious treasure to enrich the Church. May the Church undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel’. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer.

Extracts from Pope Francis’
‘Letter to Families’, 25 February 2014

 Prayer for families
Holy Family of Nazareth, in you we contemplate the splendour of true love and the model of family life. Grant that our own families may remain united in deep mutual love and be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic churches. Guard the members of our family from all physical and spiritual danger and keep us faithful to the Lord. Grant healing to all families who experience rejection and division. Keep us attentive to their needs. May our families be living witnesses of the love and presence of Jesus in the world.

We pray-  Our Father, who art in heaven


What can we expect to receive from the Synod?
The heart of the matter at the Synod of Bishops on the Family which is moving towards the conclusion of its first week’s work is: How the Church remains true to its core beliefs while showing mercy, compassion and forgiveness to individuals who fail, in so many ways, to live up its high ideals. "We must allow Jesus to do his work in the Eucharist because the Eucharist was left for us, sinners. We must not portray a Church which tries to put limits on God's love...."

The sense of urgency about resolving these issues is palpable during the Synod sessions. There are many economic and social challenges facing families today, the Church is asked to be more open to meeting the particular needs of men, women and children in their care...

"What’s going on in the Synod is we’re seeing a more inductive way of reflecting, starting with the real situations of people... and finding that the lived experience of people is also a theological source, a place of theological reflection"

"A marriage of justice and mercy - God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful, it's just hard for us to do the same, but we must strive to do that.
                        :October 10, 2014

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