ROME, Italy, Oct. 24, 2014 – A Filipino Catholic priest considers the recently held Synod of Bishops on the Family a significant part of “cultural evangelization”, which, the head of Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard, states is a must for world-wide evangelization.
Fr. Norman Melchor Peña, Jr. of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Culture (ECC) said the Church, as “vanguard of evangelization”, recognizes the indispensable role of the family in nourishing culture.
He believes the opening exhortation, in which the Holy Father told the delegates “to speak with clarity and listen with humility” set the tone of the Synod.
Following closely the many issues presented to the Synod Fathers, Peña agrees with Pope Francis that the event is a “journey of human beings”.
“Admittedly, along with moments of pressure, strain, and fatigue, there were also moments of consolation, enthusiasm, and grace,” he said.
“This grace highlights much the culture of belief that God is at our side on the journey—incarnated ‘in the strong who feel compelled to help the less strong, in those who are more experienced who are to serve others’, and in those families in most need who remained adamant in their faith and hope in God.,” he added.
According to Peña, the five “synodal temptations” the pope named have spawned “cultural propensities” which are worthy of reflection.
These are the temptation to hostile inflexibility; temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness; temptation to come down off the cross, to please only people and not God; temptation to transform stones into bread, abandoning the value of suffering and throwing stones at others; and temptation to neglect the deposit of faith and one’s identity as custodians of God’s creation.
As parts of culture, the priest noted each of these was addressed, not only to the delegates but also to all “who live in that culture”.
Quoting one Synod Father, he said, “There are lots of negative things that families experience today, but we should not forget that there are also lots of positive experiences and on these should be based responses to the challenges as they too are gifts of God”. (Raymond A. Sebastián)