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Focus on families, priests and vocations

This week’s editorial leader

There was a great deal of speculation and controversy surrounding the extraordinary synod on the family last year and it seemed the secular press were determined to use this internal forum of frank and open discussion within the Church as a catalyst to fan the flames of potential schism regardless of whether there were or weren’t any sparks actually flying. It is, after all, difficult to focus on the need to support the family, in all its forms, from the secularisation of society without being sensationalist. Here in Scotland, however, the Named Person bill is creeping ever closer to undermining family and life, just as changes to laws on marriage and adoption have done before and the push for assisted suicide attempted to do. It is also difficult to focus on the many strands of family and marriage on the synod agenda when headlines scream of  ‘divorce’ and ‘homosexuality’ to the exclusion of all else.

This year’s synod will follow the upcoming World Meeting on Families in Philadelphia in the US. Pope Francis, who speaks frankly and from the heart, is likely to reiterate his belief in improving pastoral care for all Catholics—including those whose personal circumstances are deemed irregular by Church teaching—at the meeting and again at the synod. This is Christian not a doctrinal crisis, although it seems some either will or fear it to be such. Will Pope Francis’s pontificate lead to a Third Vatican Council? Who can tell? If it did would that be a bad development?

In the meantime, we must remember that mercy and compassion are not reserved only for those who partake of the Sacraments and, as we prepare for the coming Jubilee of Mercy beginning in December, perhaps it is with mercy in our hearts we should pray for the synod participants, including Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow. The national pilgrimage to Carfin last Sunday for the success of the synod was an ideal start.

This month sees vocations awareness week arrive but in families, parishes and diocese throughout Scotland programmes, Masses and dedicated staff focus all year round on fostering and nurturing vocations. In September the SCO aims to shine a light on vocations by exploring the work that is taking place here. We would encourage all to take time out from the noise of modern life to listen for God’s voice, to pray for guidance in the direction of life and to think and pray about vocations and how we can support our priest and religious as they support us, both spiritually and practically.

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