Francis and the family

Now here’s an interesting development (fascinating how often we say that since Francis’s election!):

Today the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will host an  Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to discuss the topic,  “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The  meeting will take place in Rome, October 5-14, 2014, and the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics will almost certainly be on the table.

There have only been two previous such Extraordinary Synods since Pope Paul  VI established the Synod of Bishops in 1965.

That’s from Time‘s Elizabeth Dias yesterday.

Of course, in his interest in marriage and family, Pope Francis is picking up a major theme in the papal magisterium and ministry of Pope John Paul II. (Think Theology of the Body, the World Meeting of Families, the Pontifical Council for the Family, Familiaris Consortio, the Letter to Families, and the Year of the Family, just for starters!) The very interesting thing — and quite unavoidable, despite the constant insistence we are sure to hear from some that “nothing has changed … Francis has not changed church teaching” — will be to see the different and distinctive emphases and twists that Pope Francis brings to the topic.

Also worth noting is that the next World Meeting of Families is slated to take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in September 2015. Since his election, there has been no public confirmation that Pope Francis will participate in this event, though his predecessors have been present for each such international gathering in the past. I’d say this decision about the extraordinary synod is a pretty good indicator that Francis will be very interested in going to the World Meeting of Families. And that means we can probably expect Francis’s first pastoral visit to the United States less than two years from now.

 

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