Moderator: S.E. Mons. Joseph Edward KURTZ
Relator: S.E. Mons. Stephen BRISLIN
Anglicus Group C was surprised by the release of the Relatio to the media but nonetheless we were able to complete our work with openness and frankness.
1. Marriage is a gift of God to man, a blessing given by him for the well-being of his creatures, made in his image. From the beginning God ordained that it is not good for man to live alone and so he created for him a helpmate, one equal to him, that they may live in relational complementarity. This gift, this mystery of attraction and love between man and woman, was recognized from earliest times as coming from God. In the New Testament, the relationship between man and woman is deepened and explained even more fully and as mirroring the relationship between Christ and his Body, the Church. Through the centuries, the Church has built on this Biblical teaching in order to teach and assist Christians to live and appreciate marital life as God intended it to be lived and appreciated; she has also strived to protect the meaning and mystery of marriage, safeguarding the treasure of which we are stewards, so that it will not be trivialized or seen as a mere human institution separated from God's will and his love. The gift of self in marriage, which in some way manifests the self-giving of Jesus Christ to his people, reaches its fullest expression in sexual intercourse, where the couple express their total giving of self to other, emotionally, physically and spiritually, and not as a selfish self-gratification. It is in such self-giving that we become more human and more Christ-like. It is important that the Scriptural foundation for marriage, as well as the teaching found in Tradition, be made clear in the document from its beginning in order to build the framework for the issues to be discussed.
2. We strongly felt that the tone of the entire document should express our confidence in marriage. Reflecting on the pastoral challenges of marriage and family life in itself necessitates considering brokenness, pain and loneliness and a caring response to those in need. The challenges also cause us to reflect on questions being asked about the usefulness of marriage, as well as to consider the attempts to propose different forms of marriage. We should not fall into the trap of thinking, or in some way conveying, that marriage and family are a failure, no longer appropriate to our times. We must not lose sight of the fact that there are many marriages that – despite the ups and downs of life – do radiate harmony and love, where children are raised in a safe environment, are nurtured and educated in virtue and the values taught to us by Christ, and where the family is truly a domestic Church. We must acknowledge that the faithful are committed to marriage and that many families give hope, are an inspiration and example to others, especially younger couples.
3. For this reason, the document should also give encouragement to those committed to their marriages and families. They must not lose hope. The Church needs them, indeed the world needs them. Their efforts are appreciated and the Church is committed to giving them support and pastoral care. They are witnesses to married life as a vocation to holiness; of themselves, they proclaim that fruitful, life-long commitment in marriage is attainable, and this must be stated clearly. They are witnesses to the love of Christ for his people – they give concrete expression to his self-giving love. They have an essential role to play in evangelization, the spread of the Gospel, especially at a time when the Church wishes to make new efforts, using new methods and with renewed energy, to evangelize the world and to enter into dialogue with the world. Their families are truly missionary, faithful to the command given to us by Christ, to go to the world.
4. Thus, it is important that the document does not, in any way, weaken the hope that such marriages express, or weaken the commitment that the members have for each other. We rightly wish to welcome, without judgement or condemnation, those who, for some reason, are not yet able to express life-long commitment in a marriage between a man and a woman. We wish also to give them encouragement, to help them recognize their own goodness, and to care for them as Christ cares for his sheep. We wish them to know that they are loved by God and rejected neither by him nor the Church. In expressing such sentiments we may inadvertently convey the impression that marriage is not important, or that it is an ideal that only a few select people can achieve. It is possible that some may even have the impression that all unions are equal. For this reason, we felt it necessary to carefully define the meaning of the law of gradualness, which should not be understood as gradualness of the law. Gradualness should not make insipid the challenge of the Gospel to conversion, to "go and sin no more", as Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery. The aim of recognizing gradualness should be to draw people closer to Christ. Truth and mercy are not mutually exclusive terms, and in proclaiming truth we also proclaim the most profound mercy – that of reconciliation and unity with God; on the other hand, it is in mercy that we find truth.
5. Bearing this in mind, the document must be a positive expression of the Church's love for all people, the love which knows no bounds and which welcomes sinners and those who are made to be on the fringes of society. We understand that for many their situation in life may not be a free choice, that economic circumstances limit many people in that which can be achieved, that the prevailing culture itself can limit free choice. In dealing with the detail of each section of the document, and closely examining the wording, we were conscious that we may well be losing sight of the necessity for the document to express the welcome, acceptance and the love for those in difficult and painful circumstances, those who are searching for truth and for those longing for the comfort of Christ's healing.
6. The task presented to us during the synod has made it clear that proper pastoral care of the married and for those in other relationships, demands well-formed priests, who are properly trained in issues of marriage and family life, and who have the pastoral heart to care and welcome those who seek Christ. Acknowledgement should be given to those lay organizations and associations that are committed to strengthening marriage and who make themselves available to couples who are experiencing pain and difficulty, giving them support and encouragement. They have an increasingly important role to play. Furthermore, acknowledgement and encouragement must also be given to those movements which specifically give witness to marriage and family as part of their charism.
7. We are grateful for the openness that has prevailed throughout this Extraordinary Synod. This has enabled us to listen to the insights and experiences of many people which has helped present a balanced and comprehensive appreciation of the vibrancy of family life and also of various concerns. Especially beneficial were the insights from different cultures which has enriched and deepened our knowledge – this has only been possible as a result, not only of the freedom to express ourselves, but also the willingness to listen by all participants.
[03042-02.03] [Original text: English]