In just a few days, from October 5th-19th, Pope Francis will hold a very special and rare event. An extraordinary synod, a meeting of select bishops to discuss matters of extreme and immediate importance will be held.
Pope Paul VI reinstated the synod in 1965 to receive advice on specific subjects. Since that time, only two extraordinary synods have been held: one in 1969, to establish methods for better communication between the Holy See and the national bishops’ conferences and one in 1985, as a mark for the 20th anniversary of Vatican II, which led to the compilation of the Catholic Catechism a few years later.
Pope Francis has called 2014’s synod to address Pastoral Challenges to the Family in Context of Evangelization, and no one was happier to hear of this extraordinary synod than I.
I have heard mixed reactions to Pope Francis and wonder at both sides who are so quick to judge. I don’t know enough about this man to suggest he will change Catholic doctrine as some say. What I do know something about is the suffering that accompanies the breakdown of the family and the huge obstacles to promoting our beautiful and solid faith that accompany that breakdown.
I know that when either spouse puts individual needs above the marital commitment, refuses to accept responsibility, or turns his back on faith, total and utter devastation leaves those left behind with broken hearts. I have held my children as they cried for long nights, and they have held me in much the same manner. Together, my boys and I have weathered storms that come in sudden flashes of anger and pain rocking our world without the buffer a second adult in the home provides.
At those moments which often last years not hours, it is hard to give glory to God.
Today, five years later after my husband’s abandonment, I have a new job. We have housing and food and a car.
We are among the very fortunate few.
Pope Francis is leading flocks of men, women, and children all over the world with far fewer opportunities and far less support than my boys and I have. He is witnessing the rise in sex outside of marriage, cohabitation, materialism, surprise pregnancy and subsequent death through abortion as well as effects of the caste system, dowries, and more.
While we sit in our comfy homes, scanning articles on laptops or tablets, we forget the real challenges that affect so many solely because of the breakdown of the family. We forget that right now half a world away and right down our street, someone is struggling physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually because of the breakdown of the family.
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