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Archbishop Kurtz discusses work of bishops on issues of the family

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Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, left, is flanked by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati, left, and Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, rector and president of Mount St. Mary’s of the West Seminary after he delivered the annual James C. Gardner Lecture on Moral Theology Dec. 9 in the Bartlett Pastoral Center. Archbishop Kurtz, president of the USCCB, was a delegate to the Vatican Synod on the Family called by Pope Francis this past summer. (CT Photo/Steve Trosley)
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, left, is flanked by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati, left, and Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, rector and president of Mount St. Mary’s of the West Seminary after he delivered the annual James C. Gardner Lecture on Moral Theology Dec. 9 in the Bartlett Pastoral Center. Archbishop Kurtz, president of the USCCB, was a delegate to the Vatican Synod on the Family called by Pope Francis this past summer. (CT Photo/Steve Trosley)

The “fingerprints of Pope Francis” are on the recent Synod on the Family, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said Dec. 9 at the James J. Gardner Lecture on Moral Theology.

Archbishop Kurtz, who is president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and who was a delegate to the synod, described the work of the bishops on the issues of the family.

The archbishop told the capacity crowd in the Bartlett Center that one of the recommendations of the bishops was that who should issue an apostolic exhortation. Archbishop Kurtz said the media focused on the discussions about wounded families and that there was much speculation about what would be contained in the exhortation.

He predicted — humbly noting he was probably wrong — that Pope Francis has already tipped his hand “in seed form” in his homilies during his Wednesday general audiences.

Among those tip-offs, Archbishop Kurtz said, was that the pope called the family the masterpiece of God’s creation. The pope also said that when the relationship between a man and woman is broken, “the children themselves are the first to suffer the consequences.”

Archbishop Kurtz added that “Jesus was not born into a palace; he was born into a family.” In another homily, he said, the pope talked about mothers as the strongest antidote to individualism and how it was necessary for fathers to be ,“present but not controlling.”

The gender identity trend has also been a subject on which the pope has spoken. Archbishop Kurtz said man and woman were created to be complementary. “People who want to cancel out the differences are not making a solution but are making a problem,” he said.

The pope also has taught there are three expressions that are most important in family life, according to the archbishop. “Those include ‘may I,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘pardon me.’”

Among the many other citations Archbishop Kurtz made from papal homilies was that the family should be a subject not an object as in grammar constructions. He said families must be faithful to the promise of love made at the conception of their children and that that promise should be ever expanding.

Archbishop Kurtz accepted questions after the lecture and Dr. Art Kunath asked him about improving catechesis, which he said had suffered after Vatican II, so that young people would not be misguided by educators and others. The archbishop said he agreed there was a need for better catechesis, but that the church needed to engage people now, even before all the fixes could be made in the teaching of the faith to the faithful.

“This crisis is real,” Kunath said, “The lack of understanding of the faith is terrible.”

Archbishop Kurtz responded: “Many of the things you say are correct. But you still have a role to play before I fix catechesis.”

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