Synod of Bishops on the Family

Family Day Image from Rome October 27 2013

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and vice-president of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, is representing the Irish bishops at the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of Bishops which is taking  place at the Vatican from 5 to 19 October, to discuss the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation.

Click here to watch a video where Archbishop Diarmuid Martin previews the Synod.

Click here for links to photos, daily press briefings, papal and other Synod addresses.

Twitter accounts to follow for live updates: @Pontifex @news_va @HolySeePress @catholicbishops

Synod News and Updates

18 October 2014: Address of Pope Francis for the conclusion of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops 

18 October 2014: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on “extraordinary” address by Pope Francis  

14 October 2014: “We have to develop a different type of theology in which we can learn from the lived experience of families and the difficulties that they have”, says Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, in an interview with the head of Vatican Radio’s German program, Fr. Bernd Hagenkord SJ. Listen to the interview here

14 October 2014: Synod on Family Midterm report presented and 2015 Synod announced 

11 October 2014: Video recording of a media briefing chaired by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in the Vatican concerning the extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome

7 October 2014: Summary of comments by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, during today’s debate at the Synod of Bishops in Rome

5 October 2014: Homily of Pope Francis for Mass for the opening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family 

Background to the Synod 

On 8 October 2013, Pope Francis convoked the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation. The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops began its preparation by sending the Preparatory Document, which generated significant reflection among the People of God. The results of that consultation are presented in the  Instrumentum Laboris (working instrument or document) published on 26 June 2014.

The Holy Father has determined that the work of Synod of Bishops is to take place in two stages, forming an single organic unity. In the Third Extraordinary General Assembly in October 2014, the synod fathers will thoroughly examine and analyze the information, testimonies and recommendations received from the particular Churches in order to respond to the new challenges of the family. The Ordinary General Assembly in 2015, representing a great part of the episcopate and continuing the work of the previous synod, will reflect further on the points discussed so as to formulate appropriate pastoral guidelines.

The Instrumentum Laboris is based on the responses to the questions in the Preparatory Document which was divided into 8 groups of questions on marriage and the family. After its publication in November, 2013, this document was distributed worldwide. A great number of detailed responses to the questions was submitted by the synods of the Eastern Catholic Churchessui iuris, the episcopal conferences, the departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General. In addition, other responses — categorized as observations — were sent directly to the General Secretariat by a significant number of dioceses, parishes, movements, groups, ecclesial associations and families, not to mention academic institutions, specialists, both Catholic and non-Catholic, all interested in sharing their reflections.

The Instrumentum Laboris is divided into three parts and, for an orderly treatment at the synodal assembly, reflects the eight major subjects treated in the series of questions. The first part, devoted to the Gospel of the Family, treats the divine plan and the vocation of the person in Christ. Within this perspective, the section gives indications — positive as well as negative — of the faithful’s knowledge and acceptance of pertinent teachings on the family from the Bible and the documents of the Church’s Magisterium as well as the faithful’s understanding of the natural law. The second part treats various challenges and actual situations related to the pastoral care of the family. The third part is devoted to the topic of an openness to life and the responsibility of parents in the upbringing of their children — characteristic of marriage between a man and a woman — with particular reference to difficult pastoral situations.

The present document, the fruit of a collegial effort by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat to gather and examine the results of the consultation of the particular Churches, is placed in the hands of the members of the Synod Assembly as the Instrumentum Laboris. The document offers a broad, yet by no means exhaustive, perspective on the present-day situation of the family, on the challenges of the family and on the reflections related to the family today.

The topics which are not included in the document, those in response to question 9 in the Preparatory Document (miscellaneous), will be treated in the Ordinary General Assembly of 2015.

To read the full text of the Instrumentum Laboris please click here.

Click here for a short video outlining what a Synod is.

Pope Francis’ Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod 

Pope Francis provided the prayer below for the Synod of Bishops on the Family in his Angelus address on the Feast of the Holy Family (29 December 2013): 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust. 

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.


Statements relating to the Synod 

26 September 2014: Bishops ask faithful to support worldwide day of prayer on Sunday for the Synod of Bishops on the Family

26 August 2014: Archbishop Eamon Martin promotes Rosary Sunday initiative 

14 June 2014: Address by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at Council for Marriage and the Family Conference in Dublin 

11 June 2014: Supporting Marriage and Family (excerpt from June 2014 General Meeting press release) 
Bishops discussed the forthcoming Extraordinary Synod of Bishops which Pope Francis will be hosting this October on the subject of the ‘Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization’. To highlight this theme the Bishops’ Council for Marriage will hold a conference this Saturday in Holy Cross Diocesan Centre, Clonliffe College, Dublin, on the theme: ‘Marriage and Family at the Heart of the Parish’. This conference is offered to leaders in parishes and dioceses and others exercising faith and pastoral leadership, including parents, grandparents, teachers, members of Parish Pastoral Councils as well as other groups and organisations serving the Church’s mission. The conference’s keynote speaker will be Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Vice-President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference; and it will be addressed by Bishop Liam MacDaid, Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family; Dr Tony Fahey, Professor of Social Policy, School of Applied Science at UCD; and Ms Colette Furlong from the Sligo Parishes Cluster. Commenting ahead of the Saturday’s gathering Bishop Liam MacDaid said, “The vocation of marriage and family life enriches the whole community and our conference will be another opportunity to explore and deepen our sense of marriage and family which is at the heart of the parish and society. It is vitally important to explore together how parishes can continue to support families in their calling to live, pass on and share their faith, given the pastoral challenges that affect families today.”

13 March 2014: Statement of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference regarding the questionnaire from the Synod on the Family 

26 February 2014: Bishop MacDaid warmly welcomes Pope Francis’ Letter to Families


Rosary Sunday in Ireland on 5 October 2014

Website of the Pontifical Council for the Family