Now that was something!
For the last couple weeks, the Church has been digesting the Synod on the Family, a meeting in Rome of bishops and families from around the world with the Holy Father.
Never has more ink—digital or actual—been spilled on such a meeting. Every word, press release and sound bite has been scrutinized, dissected and interpreted.
And yet, if you weren’t paying close attention, you may have missed some of the substance that didn’t generate as much media attention.
The Synod had some pretty incisive things to say about the relationship between the family and the economy. In fact, it offered a powerful critique of the world economy.
It wasn’t all good. The Synod Fathers had some pretty harsh words for the “economic systems”, “unemployment”, “culture of prosperity” and “disinterest” on the part of government that today “weakens the dignity of people”. This is what they said in their final report:
There is also a general feeling of powerlessness in the face of socio-cultural realities which oftentimes end in crushing families. Such is the case in increasing instances of poverty and unemployment in the workplace, which at times is a real nightmare… Families often feel abandoned by the disinterest and lack of attention by institutions. The State has the responsibility to pass laws and create work to ensure the future of young people and help them realize their plan of forming a family.
That’s tough stuff. But that’s where the Church has to dwell, because that place of family pain is where God dwells. Evangelization must take people where they’re at. As the Synod Fathers said:
… evangelization needs to clearly denounce cultural, social, political and economic factors, such as the excessive importance given to market logic which prevents authentic family life and leads to discrimination, poverty, exclusion, and violence.
In a complex world where relationships and institutions are increasingly fragile, pain and hope are felt and lived by those at the bottom. For many, the family is the last buffer in a world dominated by “the logic of the market”, where communities are fast evaporating, job security and pensions seem anachronistic, and loneliness and insecurity are more pervasive. Make no mistake, families are being put through the sieve. If that’s the case, perhaps the Church and the State need to think seriously about exercising a preferential option for the family.
As Cardinal Erdő of Hungary said during the days of the Synod, “the family is almost the last welcoming human reality in a world determined near exclusively by finance and technology. A new culture of the family can be the starting point for a renewed human civilization”.
Dylan Corbett is manager for mission & identity outreach at the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development.