synod on familyPresuppositions – what are our presuppotions? There has already been much ink spilled about the World Synod of the Family … and more will be spilled in the run up to the 2015 installment. My concern is that so much of the writing is rooted in presuppositions which are never dealt with consciously. Too often presuppositions are a form of “poisoning wells”  or ideological “spin”.

However, I  found this selection about presuppositions from an article by Robert Imbelli very helpful… and explanatory of where Pope Francis is coming from. Read it and see if that is where most of the discussion is coming from… or even if that is where you are coming from.

“St. Ignatius Loyola places at the very beginning of his Spiritual Exercises a demanding “Presupposition.” He writes: “It should be presupposed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. Further, if one cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask how the other means it. If that meaning is wrong, one should correct the person with love.”

“Nothing could be more enervating to the task of discernment than attaching facile labels of “legalist” or “liberal” and using them as excuses for not engaging the considered perspectives and arguments of others. In the spirit of St. Ignatius, the following presumptions should govern the deliberations of the year ahead.

“All parties concerned should seek to read the contemporary ecclesial and cultural context guided by the light of Christ, the light of the Gospel, as the synod report reiterates time and again.

“All parties should be committed to a common pastoral concern: to preserve and strengthen the sacred gift of marriage in Christ that has been entrusted to the church.

“Sobriquets like “conservative Catholic” or “progressive Catholic” (even as a self-designation) should be placed in mothballs. As Pope Benedict XV said in the days of the Modernist crisis, “Catholic Christian” should suffice to express our common heritage and commitment.

“These presuppositions will not eliminate debate and disagreement, but they can make them productive and bearers of spiritual fruit.


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