By CINDY WOODEN, Catholic News Service | Published October 15, 2015
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—The Synod of Bishops on the family must find ways to give Catholic families a leading role in evangelizing and supporting other families, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told the synod.
“Families who by the grace of God model tenderness, forgiveness and the joy of family life make marriage credible and show that the Gospel of the family is truly good news,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, USCCB president.
Each voting member of the Synod of Bishops is allowed one formal, three-minute speech to the assembly and to submit fuller remarks or comments on other topics in writing.
Archbishop Kurtz, who was one of the first synod members to address the assembly, released an expanded version of his synod talk Oct. 8.
“As the synod seeks to offer concrete solutions to the many difficulties families face,” he said, “we must enlist the help of the family itself in a very deliberate way and provide families with the formation they need to be active agents of evangelization.”
Recognize the “incredible vitality” of families
The synod, the archbishop said, cannot focus only on the challenges the family faces or on “wounded” families; it also must recognize the “incredible vitality and strength” of families.
To prepare a young man for priesthood, dioceses dedicate years of resources to his education and they ensure continuing education throughout his years of ministry, he noted. If Christian families are to fulfill their role as missionaries, dioceses and parishes must make a commitment to their training as well.
On a practical level, he said, it would be important to have “small groups of families who encourage each other in the ups and downs of family life and strong connections” between parishes and families.
But to be effective, Archbishop Kurtz said, church leaders and the families themselves must believe and trust in God’s promises and in the grace that is given through the sacrament of marriage, he said.
“The Holy Spirit penetrates the life of the spouses who are consecrated and equipped for their mission,” he said. “We must trust in God’s grace as we help Christian husbands and wives embrace and live the truth of the sacrament they have received.”