VATICAN CITY — At the conclusion of the 2015 Synod on the Family, Pope Francis emphasized that the gathering had been about recognizing that society is founded on the family and marriage as the permanent union of one man and one woman.
The synod, the Holy Father said in his closing message, “was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.”
This year’s Synod on the Family, which runs through Oct. 25, is the second and larger of two such gatherings to take place in the course of a year. Like its 2014 precursor, the focus of the 2015 Synod of Bishops is the family, this time with the theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.”
The Pope explained that the gathering “was not about finding exhaustive solutions for all the difficulties and uncertainties which challenge and threaten the family, but rather about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.”
Rather, he said, it was about listening to the voices of families and pastors, and seeing reality through God’s eyes to offer hope and encouragement in a world of growing crisis and pessimism.
Throughout the synod, Pope Francis said, the expression of differing opinions allowed for “rich and lively dialogue” and “offered a vivid image of a Church which does not simply ‘rubberstamp,’ but draws from the sources of her faith living waters to refresh parched hearts.”
“It was about showing the vitality of the Catholic Church, which is not afraid to stir dulled consciences or to soil her hands with lively and frank discussions about the family.”
The Church’s duty is to proclaim God’s mercy and love, calling call men to conversion and salvation, the Holy Father said.
However, this does not detract from the importance of formula, laws and divine commandments, he said.
“Indeed, it means upholding all the more the laws and commandments which were made for man and not vice versa.”
Pope Francis also referenced the 1985 Synod, speaking of the need for an “inculturation” that transforms cultural values by integrating them in Christianity. Such inculturation, he said, “does not weaken true values, but demonstrates their true strength and authenticity, since they adapt without changing; indeed they quietly and gradually transform the different cultures.”
In addition, the pontiff noted “dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s Magisterium” and spoke of the importance of “defending the family from all ideological and individualistic assaults.”
Concluding, he quoted the words of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in emphasizing the role of mercy in the Church.
“In effect, for the Church to conclude the Synod means to return to our true ‘journeying together’ in bringing to every part of the world, to every diocese, to every community and every situation, the light of the Gospel, the embrace of the Church and the support of God’s mercy!”