Catholic writer and historian Tim Stanley reminded us that some have misunderstood the purpose of the synod. He stated, “Its purpose was to discuss the state of marriage and family in the modern world and how the church can help.” It was never intended to be a reappraisal of doctrine. After the synod, “Catholic teaching remains the same. The terms of salvation do not alter according to present circumstance.” He did indicate that the synod recommended a more pastoral approach to those married outside the Church. He stated that this pastoral approach is “in line with the Pope’s belief that the Church should encourage people to throw themselves on the mercy of God. It does not reject the Church’s teaching on marriage.” He also indicated that the Church continues to face challenges, including the challenge to more clearly articulate Church doctrine. He states, “Perhaps the key challenge facing the Church, however, is to humanize that doctrine and present it to people not as a set of intellectual precepts divorced from practical experience but as the face of Christ.” He believes that Pope Francis “wants Catholics to live as Christ would live and win converts through love. Such a road is long and hard but worth taking, and taking together as one indivisible Church.”
Pope Francis, in his remarks at the conclusion of the synod, once again reiterated his call for mercy. He stated, “The experience of the synod has made us understand better that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who defend its letter, but its spirit; not ideas, but people, not formulas, but the free gift of God’s love and forgiveness.” This serves “to exalt the greatness of the true God, who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works, but solely according to the boundless generosity of his mercy.” “The church’s first duty is…to proclaim God’s mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation in the Lord.” He said that the synod wants nothing other than that “all would be saved.”
Please continue to pray for our Pope and our bishops as they continue to address the role of the family and the Church in the modern world.