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Cardinal DiNardo discusses marriage at LeBlond lecture

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Cardinal Daniel Dinardo, Archbishop of Gal (CT Photo/Steve Trosley)
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. (CT Photo/Steve Trosley)

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, gave the 2016 LeBlond lecture audience an intimate view of the workings of the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family April 6 at the Athenaeum of Ohio.

The lecture provided a preface to the release of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which was released April 8.

Cardinal DiNardo, the vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, explained how the working documents had to be improved as the Oct. 4-25 Synod in Rome got underway. “We all agreed from the beginning that the working document – the instrumentum laboris – was not all that good,” Cardinal DiNardo said, citing scriptural and other teaching document omissions and misplaced emphasis on lesser issues.

While at the time of the lecture the Cardinal said he did not have any insight on the eventual document that was released April 8, he did say volumes of material from the church around the world came to the Vatican before the Synod convened.

“Pope Francis has had an interest in the family since the days of the conclave,” DiNardo said. “The family is crucial to the mission of the Church.”

To give the lecture audience some perspective on the scope of the discussions, DiNardo explained that only “six percent of Catholics live in the United States. Ninety-four percent do not. That’s a lot of people with a different outlook.”

He talked about families enduring various severe conditions, not the least of which were refugee in the Middle East. He asked the audience to consider the impact of a Christian family from Iraq that escaped from a 1,000-year-old village, “and now it’s simply not there.”

He said the bishops discussed the various issues in their language groups and said they focused on what Pope Francis calls accompaniment. “How do we accompany people in the mission of their lives,” he asked.

He said it was unanimous that the church needs to do a better job of marriage preparation. “We take 10 years to form a seminarian but do Marriage in six months – and now we’re reaping the whirlwind,” he said.

Using the example of parishes in his diverse archdiocese, he said he’s discovered that what the pope says is true: “You don’t have to take a course. You need only give witness and make your encounter with Christ known.”

He admitted many of the bishops were “leery” of some of the more progressive suggestions for dealing with divorced Catholics, single parents and others in crisis.

However, he said the Synod ended on a jubilant expression of mission for the family that included love of spouse, openness to new life and inclusion of the extended family.

This story first appeared in the May 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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