It has been almost two years since the cameras of the world focussed on the Vatican for the highly anticipated Synod of Bishops on “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”. The synod had a huge focus as Pope Francis had invited the lay faithful of the Church to offer their comments through a questionnaire in 2014. And it has been almost a year since Pope Francis issued the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (The Joy of Love) as the post-synod reflection document setting the path for renewal and reform in a number of areas concerning marriage and family life.
Since the publication of the Exhortation the Universal Church has reviewed the process of Marriage Annulment, and a greater thought has been encouraged in the process of accompanying couples through preparation for marriage. As part of the implementation of the principles of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ on a local level our clergy have left their parishes and are currently embarking on a three day conference examining the Apostolic Exhortation more closely and helping to formulate diocesan policies for the support of engaged and married couples and the family as a whole in all its rich array.
The conference timetable is loaded with guest speakers and experts engaging the clergy on various topics that have arisen since the publication of the Exhortation. The basic themes of the conference carry titles including ‘Recent developments in Canon Law of Marriage and Baptism: What Parish Clergy need to know’; ‘Family Life Ministry today’; ‘The Work of Marriage Care Today’; ‘The Preparation of the Diocesan Marriage Policy’; and ‘Our Ministry on Marriage’. Among the guest speakers is Bishop Peter Doyle, the England and Wales representative present at the Synod, Sir Paul Coleridge founder of ‘Marriage Foundation’ and a former High Court judge in the Family Court, and Caroline Dollard of the Marriage and Family Life Commission of the Bishops’ Conference.
There is much work ahead of us in our diocese as we move forward to accompany families on their journey through life and the Joy of Love! The three day conference will conclude on Saturday with the “Walking with families” day that will also be attended by various members of the laity from around the diocese. Pray for the work of our clergy, the Family Life Commission and all involved in marriage preparation and supporting families within the diocese as we continue the work ahead.