let’s have a personal dialogue on family life

I’m still struggling to regain a writing routine. My time, my mind, my energies have been focused on family this past year. The heart-tugs of family make church issues fade into irrelevancy. And yet, the intensity of family life is now calling me to write.

Bishops are preparing for the second synod for the family. We are, once again, made to hope that a more democratic spirit is finally blowing into Vatican halls. A questionnaire has been distributed reflecting on the current state of family life in the church and in the world. Unfortunately, the questionnaire is just as complicated and convoluted as the one for the recent synod. Also, it’s promotion and distribution depends on the good will of individual bishops and-or local episcopal conferences.

NCR editor, Dennis Coday, has published a cross-section list of American dioceses reporting on their efforts to canvass the opinions of local women and men. Some dioceses merely provide a link to the original lineamenta and questions. Some provide the same questions in an online survey format. Others have formulated a simplified version of the questionnaire. Some are making the questions open to every one. Others are seeking only the opinions of priests and those in active diocesan ministry. In all cases, the time frame is extremely limited.

This “catholic dialogue” blog was begun as a vehicle for open and free discussion on current issues facing our church. It was formed from personal frustration with a lack of true dialogue between our church leadership and the women and men whom they serve.

Our all male, celibate leadership is now preparing to reconvene and continue their discussions and decision making on family life. We need to take the time to ponder the issues presented in their working document (lineamenta). We need to share and discuss our own understanding of the church’s teachings on family life; an understanding based on thoughtful reflection, yes. But, more importantly, an understanding based on the reality of experience.

My humble plan is to use this blog in the weeks and months preceding the October synod to promote some online dialogue on family life, using the lineamenta as a stepping-stone. I will not be using a linear method, or attempting to address all the proposed questions. My hope is that, together, we can generate a more personal discussion. A discussion that will reflect the diversity of family life lived in all its joys and struggles.

My thoughts and your thoughts will most probably not make it onto the synod floor.

But….who knows?