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The Church a Field Hospital in the Middle of a War

I was taken by this reference of the church as a “field hospital” when I heard it stated by one of the speakers at The Synod & My Family Conference.




The Synod & My Family Conference - November 19 to 21, 2015

The church “a field hospital” in the middle of a war

The conference hosted by Dominican University College in Ottawa this past weekend was organized to share the latest outcomes of the recent General Assembly of the Synod of Catholic Bishops on the Family held recently with Pope Francis in Rome. The Synod’s theme was “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World.” Keynote speakers were Fr. Tom Rosica & Sebastian Gomes of Salt & Light Television and Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau. All three had been at the Synod in Rome with Archbishop Durocher serving as one of the Synod Bishops. 

At the conclusion of the Synod in Rome the bishops presented a final document to Pope Francis containing considerations they approved that arose from their working document and from the dialogue and interventions made during the sessions.

In the interim I found the manner in which the Synod had been conducted and the spirit of the discussions as reported by last weekend’s conference speakers to be very positive and encouraging. 

As Archbishop Durocher explained, there had been extensive consultation in preparation for the Synod which included lay people. Then, lay participants (couples) in attendance at the Synod spoke openly about their experiences. Ample time was then taken by the Bishops to meet in small groups for real dialogue. 

It was reported that the bishops shared a feeling of the need to move forward to families at the diocese and parish levels to ensure they know they are welcomed and loved by God no matter their situation. Furthermore they saw the need to look at what is good, the potential in those who are suffering and broken and to journey with them to help them flourish. 

Major themes that I noted:

  • Renewed recognition of the importance and indispensible nature of the family. God gave us an example of this importance when He sent His Son into the world in a family.
  • The family is really the “domestic church”. Parents, grandparents transmit the faith to their children and beyond. Church therefore needs to focus on formation.
  • The doctrine of marriage is not in question.
  • Importance of a church that listens and walks together with men and women and children in difficulty and suffering, (the separated, divorced, abused, families dealing with disabilities, addictions, etc) with a goal to lead them to Christ.
  • Church is not for the perfect; Christ came for sinners. Gospel is to give light not condemnation to those who have lost their way.
  • Discernment needed by pastors regarding integration of divorced and remarried to take into account each situation clearly.
  • Better marriage preparation and continued accompaniment of the married couple afterwards with the help of experienced married couples. For couples in co-habitation look at this as an opportunity towards marriage.
  • Strong need to address the problem of violence against women, social violence, human trafficking.
  • Cultural differences in various countries (120 countries represented at the Synod) demonstrate the range of challenges that are faced by families and the realities of poverty & migration that exist.
  • The church’s language needs to change to become more easily understood and in tune with the realities of today.

I really liked the “field hospital” parallel. We see many people suffering and broken to varying degrees who are not comfortable or don’t think of turning to the church for help but look to other means that are not always helpful. They need to be treated and helped heal by a church that is truly a “field hospital” in the midst of a challenging world.

I am anxious for the final report of Pope Francis which I understand is expected to be completed in a year.

- Trudy



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