On Tuesday December 9, the Office of the Synod in the Vatican officially confirmed the dates of the next Ordinary Synod to be October 4-25, 2015, on the theme: The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.  At the same time that Office released the Lineamenta, or the preparatory document for next year’s Synod in its official Italian version. This Lineamenta is essentially the final Relatio or Summary of the conclusions the Synod voted on at the end of its session this past October. To that text the Synod Office has appended a series of questions to help advance the discussion and deepen the understanding of the Lineamenta that will lead to the composition of a Working Paper for the participants in next year’s Synod.

In the coming days the Synod Office will be sending the text translated into other languages, including English, to the Episcopal Conferences and their counterparts in the Eastern Churches. Once our Episcopal Conference receives the English version of the Lineamenta along with the questions, our General Secretariat in Washington will transmit this to each of the bishops of the United States with instructions on how and to what extent individual bishops may initiate consultations in his diocese. The purpose is, according to the announcement, “to promote an ample discussion on the family according to the orientation and in the spirit of the synodal process.”


The Office goes on to say, “The Episcopal Conferences are invited to take part in the synodal process with opportune moments of prayer as well as celebrating family life as a preparation for the next Assembly (of the Synod).” One privileged moment would be the Feast of the Holy Family on December 28 as well as frequent use of the Holy Father’s Prayer for the Synod which appears below.

As bishop of the diocese I wanted to inform one and all of this message as soon as I have received it and invite you to begin now to use the Holy Father’s prayer in your own devotions. As soon as I receive the appropriate communications from the USCCB, I will make them public because any and all contributions toward the Working Paper must be in the Office of the Synod before April 15, 2015. If last year is an indication of this year, the dioceses will have to have their contributions in the hands of the General Secretariat of the USCCB some time prior to April 15 to have time to organize and transmit what will be sent to them by the 196 dioceses plus the eastern rite eparchies in the United States.


Prayer from Pope Francis

for the Synod of Bishops on the Family

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.