Monday, October 13, 2014

The Synod on the Family and Interchurch Families

This morning the midterm report of the Synod on the Family, the Relatio post disceptationem, was released.  For a helpful analysis of the document, I recommend John Thavis' report.

Reaction to the report has focused on what it says about gradualism, communion for divorced and remarried persons, and gay persons.

Less has been made of what the text says about those in interchurch families.  Last week I wrote about the challenges and gifts of living in an interchurch family, and suggested that the Synod on the Family needed to discuss situations like ours in more depth.

It appears that this is what occurred.

Paragraph 49 of the Relatio simply relates: "The problems relative to mixed marriages were frequently raised in the interventions of the Synodal Fathers."  While the text doesn't go into detail about these interventions, it seems hopeful that this issue is on the radar of the Fathers.

Even more encouraging to me was what was said about interchurch marriages in paragraph 7:
In countries in which Catholicism is a minority religion, there are many mixed marriages with all the difficulties that these may lead to in terms of legal form, the education of children and mutual respect from the point of view of religious freedom, but also with the great potential that derives from the encounter between the differences in faith that these stories of family life present.
In this one sentence, the Relatio beautifully summarizes what I wrote in my previous blog post.  Interchurch marriages do come with difficulties, particularly surrounding the sacraments.  But - and it is this that I find so encouraging - the Fathers emphasize that such marriages bring about valuable encounters that carry "great potential."

Such positive language with reference to interchurch marriages is very welcome.  I hope and pray that the Synod Fathers continue to discuss carefully and seriously the pastoral reality of families such as mine.

Photo above is from


  1. Most in interreligious marriages don't have any problem or qualms whatsoever. In fact, I find this synod to be quite unecessary. Debating on the status of interreligious marriages seems like a waste of time to me. No other religion seems to be arguing such a thing. I prefer that they discuss the urgent issue of birth control, particularly as this issue concerns Thirld World poverty and the AIDS pandemic, than the issue of whether it is okay for me as a Catholic to marry a Taoist, for example. In fact, in my country (Guatemala), it is common for Catholic churches to marry such interreligious couples, especially with the rise of Protestantism (about 40%, almost rivalling the 50% traditional Catholic majority). Also, as for other issues on this synod, it seems to me that homosexuality is only debated for propagandistic purposes, just like how Israel uses LGBT rights to look good to the international community. It should just be ignored altogether.

    By the way, the vast majority of Catholics not only seem unaware of this synod, but they don't even seem to care when they know of it. I would like to see your opinion on this.

    1. As someone in an interreligious marriage, I can say that there are certain difficulties that the church needs to address. They're not debating on the status of such marriages, but talking about the very real complications that are part of them. They're also discussing, very frankly it would appear, the other issues you address.

      As for whether Catholics are aware of the synod or not, my sense is that Catholics, at least here in the USA, are very aware of the synod and are actively following the discussions with interest.