Between the two Synods―the extraordinary one already celebrated from 5 to 19 October 2014 on the theme "The Pastoral Challenges on the Family in the Context of Evangelization" and the ordinary one which will be celebrated from 4 to 25 October 2015 on the theme "The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World"―, Pope Francis has, since 17 December of last year, fittingly been offering his reflection on family and life to the faithful at the Wednesday General Audiences, in the Sala Paolo VI or in St. Peter's Square.
With his discourses, Pope Francis has inaugurated the pyramidal season of the family created by God, redeemed by the Son and sanctified by the sweet and invisible presence of the Spirit.
Starting at Nazareth, with the special family composed of three names: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Pope Francis then dwelled on the mother, the father, the children, siblings and grandparents, and infants; on the family created both male and female, on marriage, and the three well-known words for which Pope Francis has a predilection: please, thank you, and I’m sorry; and then on education and on betrothal. The interventions on each topic, and even two in some cases, from 17 December 2014 to 27 May 2015, are not merely catecheses but in fact represent the magisterium, i.e. the teaching of Pope Francis, on the issues of family and life.
With these catecheses, Pope Bergoglio wants not only to prepare and guide the faithful of the Catholic Church but also encourage the shepherds of the flock to study together the Church’s magisterium and discipline, both what is old and what is new. In fact, the aim is to fill the void left, in the course the past fifty years, between theory and practice, and proclamation and testimony.
Pope Francis will continue this catechesis until the 2015 Synod, and then he will deliver to the bishops, priests, men and women religious, and to all the families of the world, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, which will direct all the pastoral action of the universal Church in the coming decades.
The other three areas of the review are:
The Conference of the family and life movements and associations that we celebrated in Rome on January 22nd, 23rd and 24th, 2015;
The XX Anniversary of "Evangelium vitae" (March 24th to 25th, 2015)
The Family: Resource of Society, Expert Meeting, part two (May 18th to 19th, 2015).
These three high-level cultural, scientific, religious and social meetings had two constant reference points: the next Synod of Bishops in 2015 and the celebration of the VIII World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia (22-27 September), which will be attended by Pope Francis, on the final two days of the planned apostolic visit to Cuba and the United States of America.
The family with all its members is at the center of the Church's concern. This is shown not only by these global events, but also by the passion with which current socio-political, religious and cultural issues concerning society's present and future are discussed on the peripheries of the Church.
(Editorial by Fr. Gianfranco Grieco)