Living Faith 2015

Living Faith and The Synod on the Family

Pope Francis has convened a Synod on the Family.

Just 50 years after the end of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis has convened a synod on the family to take place in October 2015. It follows an extraordinary synod on the same theme last year whose conclusions will be the starting point for the ordinary one this year. The whole process is unlike anything we’ve had before.

In support of the Pope, the next synod is seeking “the involvement of the whole People of God under the action of the Holy Spirit…finding ways of truth and mercy for all”. Hence Bishops’ Conferences have been encouraged to consult very widely so that a constructive way forward may be discerned for complex, pastorally sensitive situations.

It seems, however, that the consultation has not been promoted very effectively in England & Wales and compared with other parts of the world relatively few responses have been received. Here, questions relating to the more disputed issues were only included in the separate material sent to clergy.

Last year’s synod resulted in majorities in favour of two controversial provisions but failed to gain the two thirds majority required to pass. These were the readmission of divorced and remarried Catholics, under certain conditions, to Communion, and the welcoming of gay and lesbian Catholics and the recognition of their gifts.

Some of our clergy have been urging the synod not to accept any such change. Yet Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium has opened the way for change – not in doctrine – but in pastoral practice. We will need to get behind what finally emerges and it will be important to be reminded of what the Biblical sources actually say.

We will therefore be reporting on how the synod deals with some of the most contentious moral issues in the Church today. As if to recognise the waves that will inevitably be generated, Pope Francis has announced that following the synod there will be a Jubilee Year of Mercy. He declared, “The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love”.

Living Faith & The Synod on the Family (12th series of talks & discussions)

Nov 5th    What happened at the Synod – (How it all turned out) Speaker:  Elizabeth Davies
Nov 12th   Second Marriage (An opportunity for Spiritual Growth?) Speaker:  Tim Buckley CSsR
Nov 19th  Same-sex Relationships & Catholic Family Life (Development of doctrine in a critical area) Speaker:   Martin Pendergast
Nov 26th   Family Values – The Biblical Angle (What the sources tell us) Speaker:  Nicholas King SJ

About the Speakers

Elizabeth Davies
Elizabeth has been Marriage and Family Life Project Officer at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales since 2003. She has been involved in parish and diocesan family ministry since 1994 and holds an MA in Community Leadership (Family Ministry) from Regis University, Denver. Elizabeth is currently pursuing a part-time Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology at Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge and is also Chair of the Family Caring Trust, which produces community-based programmes for the preventative care of the family.

Tim Buckley CSsR
Fr Tim is a Redemptorist priest. After preaching missions and retreats as well as working for vocations, he served as a parish priest in Birmingham and Sunderland. In the 1990s he was engaged in the formation of students preparing for ministry. He studied Christian Spirituality in the US and has a doctorate from Heythrop on the pastoral care of Catholics who experience marital breakdown (His thesis was published in 1997 as, What Binds Marriage? – Roman Catholic Theology in Practice). He was Publishing Director of Redemptorist Publications for six years and then returned to mission and retreat work. Since 2011 he has been parish priest of Bishop Eton and St Mary’s, Woolton, in Liverpool. In 2009 he published, Take Heart: Expand your vision of God and two children’s books: The Adventures of Freddie Freckles and Freddie Freckles and the Sacraments.

Martin Pendergast
Martin studied Theology in Rome just after the 2nd Vatican Council, and has a Master’s degree in Theology from Bristol University. In 1976 he chaired the first public conference in the UK on Catholics & Homosexuality, sponsored by the then Catholic Renewal Movement. He is a founder member of the ecumenical Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement and Secretary of the Cutting Edge Consortium, formed to combat faith-based homophobia and transphobia. He helped initiate Masses in London, welcoming LGBT Catholics, parents, families and friends in 1999. He is a member of the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, itself part of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, as well as the recently launched Global LGBT Catholic Network. He contributes to The Guardian’s Comment is Free column on matters of faith, gender, sexuality, and human rights.

Nicholas King SJ
Fr Nicholas is a Jesuit priest who after many years teaching NT at the University of Oxford, and before that in SA has been a Visiting Professor at Boston College. He recently published a fresh translation of the entire Greek Bible, and “The Helplessness of God”, a biblical approach to church governance. (Both published by Kevin Mayhew, 2014). He has been a very popular Living Faith speaker on two previous occasions.

The format for each evening will be the same as in the past: a meal, followed by a talk, group discussion and questions to the speaker, ending at 9.30pm. Do try to come to all four sessions.

Read about previous Living Faith talks here.


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