A significant group of both Catholic and Protestant thinkers and luminaries are urging the upcoming Catholic bishops’ synod on the family in Rome to robustly address threats to church teachings on marriage and family.
Pastor Rick Warren is a signer of the appeal, along with Catholic philosopher Robert George of Princeton University, an IRD emeritus board member. IRD board member Tom Farr, a Catholic layman and former diplomat who now heads the religious liberty project at Georgetown University, was an organizer. Another signer is former IRD president Kent Hill of World Vision.
Their appeal was released early this week in time for the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which runs October 5-19. There will be 253 participants, including scores of Catholic bishops and clergy, some lay people, and some Protestant and Orthodox “fraternal” delegates, called by Pope Francis to examine the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” Pope Paul founded the Synod of Bishops in 1965, and a session is deemed “extraordinary” if addressing issues meriting “immediate attention.”
Clearly the state of the family and marriage in the world of 2014 earns such “immediate attention.”
This ecumenical appeal to the Synod notes that “marriage and the family are indispensable, both as vehicles of salvation and as bulwarks of human society.” And it observes that this Synod is an “opportunity to express timeless truths about marriage” that exemplify “true love, not ‘exclusion’ or ‘prejudice,’ or any of the other charges brought against marriage today.”
The appeal cites cohabitation, divorce, pornography and illegitimacy as threats to marriage, family and children, spiritually, socially and economically. It urges the church to research pornography’s and no fault divorce’s impact on declining marriage rates, to educate seminarians on the dangers that cohabitation and divorce pose to children and society, include more prayers in worship for the family, train priests to preach on marriage’s social benefits, create networks of married couples as mentors, nurture reconciliation for estranged couples, support laws affirming natural marriage, and defend religious freedom in divorce courts.
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