From this latter point of view, divorce, annulments, and contraception certainly have their impact on the quality of family life.But surely it is a negative impact, not a positive one? The recent expresses it in its opening paragraph: “to bring about a new springtime for the family.” While this is suggestive (implying also that the family is going through a winter), it is not too concrete.Hence, proposals to make them more “available” or more “acceptable” would seem to run clear counter to the presumed purpose of the Synod. Let us go directly then to Pope Francis himself, who can certainly tell us what is central in his concerns about the family and, therefore, what he wants the Synod to discuss.

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There, along with requesting prayers for the Synod, he expresses his mind about the role of the family, and the dangers that threaten it today, in a very condensed but beautiful manner.

It is certainly no accident that Francis chose to date this brief letter on February 2.

On the contrary, the Pope uses the Gospel of the feast to show how the family can make generations more united, overcome individual self-centeredness, and bring joy to itself and the world.

He first dwells on how the presentation of Jesus brings together two old people, Simeon and Anna, and two young people, Mary and Joseph.

“It is a beautiful image: two young parents and two elderly people, brought together by Jesus.

He is the one who brings together and unites generations!

” And then, “He is the inexhaustible font of that love which overcomes every occasion of self‑absorption, solitude, and sadness.

Judging by the media reports on the Extraordinary Synod to be held in Rome this October, the bishops present will be mainly concerned with issues such as the admission to the Eucharist of divorced and remarried persons, the speeding up of annulment processes, and the possible revision of the Church’s teaching on contraception.

Implicit in most of the reports is the view that a liberalization or “relaxation” of the Church’s present discipline in these matters could help to ameliorate the pastoral problem or concern that the Synod is called to examine. First, it must be remembered that the Synod is on the Family, not on Marriage.