Today we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, another key mystery of our faith. Like the Trinity we celebrated last week, this mystery is multifaceted. It celebrates the presence of Christ in the form of His Body and Blood, the Eucharist, which we celebrate every Sunday. It also celebrates the reality that we, the members of His Church, are the Body of Christ.
According to Vatican II, the Body of Christ, the Church, finds its fullest expression in the Diocese, led by the Diocesan Bishop. In this vein, Bishop McElroy has called for a Diocesan Synod, which is a gathering of select priests, religious and lay people to foster the pastoral life of the church. The topic of this synod will be marriage and family life.
Beginning this week, I will be putting in the bulletin a page or so from his letter convening the synod…
EMBRACING THE JOY OF LOVE
A Pastoral Message to the People of the Diocese of San Diego
Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, Bishop of San Diego
Last month, Pope Francis issued an authoritative teaching document on marriage and family life which he entitled The Joy of Love. Reflecting the consensus of bishops at two separate international Synods during the past two years, The Joy of Love seeks to invite dioceses throughout the world to enhance their promotion of marriage and family life, precisely because family lies at the heart of the Christian life in the world.
For some time, I have been discussing with the Presbyteral Council, the Deans of the diocese, and lay pastoral leadership about how best to respond to Pope Francis’ call to renew marriage and family life in our local church. It has become clear that the convening of a diocesan synod on this question would constitute a promising pathway to renewal in this area of Church life. A diocesan synod is the most significant level of dialogue, discernment and decision in the life of a diocese. It brings together the bishop, the priestly leadership and lay and religious representatives from throughout the diocese to wrestle with the most important questions that a diocese faces.
Thus in October of this year I will convene a diocesan synod which focuses exclusively on the topics of marriage and family life that Pope Francis has raised in The Joy of Love. Each of our one hundred parishes will have a representative in the Synod. The majority of the representatives will be lay men and women, which is particularly important on this topic of marriage and family. There will be preparatory sessions during the coming months.
A diocesan synod embraces the dimensions of theological reflection, pastoral insight, visioning and governing, all within the context of a deep spiritual orientation to the wider life of the Church. The Synod in October will focus on five major challenges contained in The Joy of Love: witnessing to the beauty and realism of the Catholic vision of marriage; the need to form a culture of invitation to unmarried couples; the nurturing of children; ministry to those who have been divorced; and bringing spiritual depth to family life in its various forms. It is my hope that our Synod will provide a moment of profound renewal and growth in our ecclesial support of the families in San Diego and Imperial Counties. And it is my hope that this Synod will be a genuine reflection of the Mercy and Compassion of God in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.