På First Things leser vi en interessant artikkel om dette dokumentet, og om hvordan ulike personer og grupper reagerer på det (jeg skrev selv i fjor høst om at det utsendte spørreskjemaet var ganske så komplisert, og ikke la til rett for slagordsmessige uttalelser om hvordan man kan løse ekteskapskrisen i vår tid, eller gi et enkelt svar på hvordan gjengifte kan tas imot i Den katolske Kirke. Sandra Laguerta skriver i First Things:
The Vatican’s upcoming meeting on family life has spurred broad speculation about a new openness to divorced and remarried Catholics. Now commentators are searching a newly issued working document, the Instrumentum Laboris, for clues about the meeting’s direction.
The Instrumentum Laboris is a summary of the diocesan data collected by the Vatican on the modern challenges to the family, and the document will guide the discussions of the extraordinary synod (mostly leaders of national bishops’ conferences) in October, as well as the ordinary synod of world bishops in 2015.
Thomas Reese at National Catholic Reporter describes the document as “boring and joyless.” Boring might be true if one didn’t understand the genre of the document or if one didn’t find it interesting how bishops themselves communicated the pastoral concerns they witness. Joyless perhaps more accurately describes Reese’s own emotions than the actual document:
Despite the numerous problems cited by the working paper, it still has hope for “a new springtime for the family,” which it believes will be led by young people who “see a value in a stable, enduring relationship and express a real desire to marry and form a family.” How this jives with the fact that young people are delaying marriage, hooking up, practicing birth control, and living together before getting married remains to be seen.
The fact that people are delaying marriage for reasons both cultural and economic doesn’t mean they don’t still hope for a committed, stable marriage. A recent Gallup poll found that while 45 percent of Americans are unmarried, only 5 percent say they have no desire to marry.
For my part, I am struck by the rich theological vision and hope of the document. It notes of “a want of an authentic Christian experience, namely, an encounter with Christ on a personal and communal level, for which no doctrinal presentation, no matter how accurate, can substitute.” It is not just that the biblical and magisterial teaching on the family is misunderstood, it is that Catholics lack a felt encounter with Christ and his Church, and so misunderstand who man is, and who he is to God and to his community.
And who is man to God? The Catechism says it succinctly:
Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony, and his Passion and gave himself up for each one of us: “The Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20) He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation (cf. Jn 19:34) “is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that . . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings” without exception. ….