My 7 Point Wish List for a Catholic Synod of Family

An Earnest Challenge for Bishops and Priests

The 2 year Catholic Synod of the Family is over. Was it worth it?

I hate to say it, but the Synod of the Family was essentially a two year debate between bishops over:

  • Homosexuality. Can a “merciful church” make room for alternative lifestyles?
  • Communion for the Catholics who were sacramentally married in the Catholic Church, later civilly divorced, and then remarried new partners. Can a “merciful church” modify the teaching of the Catechism and Saint John Paul II and…wait for it…the Second Person of the Trinity (Mk 10:11).

synod of bishops

People are still debating the final document and trying to figure who “won.”

While dogma did not change, it was nevertheless a massive failure because it did not speak to the troops on the ground: That is, it did not speak to the families actually trying to live the mystery of Matrimony and family as described by Saint John Paul II and the Catechism.

So what might have been a better game plan for a “Synod on the Family”? How about this:

7 Point Wish List of what a Synod on the Family might have looked like:

  1. A special message from the Pope issued to mothers of children, thanking them for their physical and emotional sacrifices. Thanking these brave women for having resisted the feminist lies they hear every day on TV, Facebook (and in the grocery store from clerks) as they gracefully raise the future Christians and Saints of human civilization. These women have many babies, homeschool, squeeze budgets, and are criticized by clerks and even their own families. Our Catholic women were basically ignored by this Synod. Women are mentioned only 6 times in the Relatio. Motherhood only one time! Shame on the bishops for this.
  2. A special message from the Pope to fathers of children, thanking them for resisting the easy-sex hook-up culture and choosing the vocation of monogamy and fatherhood. Thanking them for their financial sacrifices and their fidelity toward their wives and children. Thanking them for mirroring Christ as a faithful Groom.
  3. The Pope formally granting a plenary indulgence (with usual conditions) to any couple on their wedding day and every annual anniversary to thank them for taking up the vocation of Holy Matrimony.
  4. A Mass to strengthen families. The synod’s request that there be a celebration on a certain date in every diocese of a special Mass offered by the bishops for mothers and fathers and their children. We don’t want to see our bishops as CEO’s within the hedge of the chancery. We desperately desire to see him as a father and shepherd laying his hands on our children and blessing them.
  5. Instead of having special meetings between the Pope and transgendered and homosexuals, have the Pope meet, bless, and honor married couples who have been married faithfully for over 50 years and hold them up as examples to the entire Catholic Church. Lots of photos. Lots of interviews. Let’s celebrate the heroes of Catholic Holy Matrimony from all cultures.
  6. An encouraging document from the Synod for families to be open to large families. Having large families is not “breeding like rabbits.” The Holy Trinity calls having large families “being fruitful,” and He thinks it’s a great thing. It would be nice to hear the Pope and bishops formally recognize the Catholic tradition of large families, and celebrate sacramental spouses that are trying to live it in a culture that is materialistic and anti-life.
  7. A strong “Culture of Life” message a la Saint John Paul II. We haven’t heart a good Culture of Life vs. Culture of Death rally in awhile. We watch our culture celebrate extramarital sex, pornography, homosexual rights, abortion, etc. daily on Facebook and the news outlets. We would love to have our own Church celebrate the counter-cultural vocation that we are trying to live out for Christ.
  8. [UPDATED EXTRA POINT 8: Recognize all the married couples suffering from infertility that remain faithful to the Church’s teachings on openness to life without resorting to immoral means of conceiving children, such as in vitro and rented wombs. – This point was recommended by Rebecca Christian after I published this post. Thank you, Rebecca.]
  9. [UPDATED EXTRA POINT 9: Address all the children who have been hurt through divorce, sexual confusion, and irregular marriages. There is a growing collection of young people who are scarred by divorce and they themselves are fearful to enter marriage after having watched their parents marriage break apart and after having lived in the fallout. The bishops need to publicly make a plan to “journey with them.” Divorce isn’t just “what about who can receive the Eucharist, but “what about our young people”? – This point was recommended by Sharon after I published this post. Thanks Sharon.]

Dear Bishops, these faithful growing families are your biggest assets. They are the ones teaching their children to pray for the bishop every night. They are the ones offering prayers, donations, volunteer time, and support.

These are the families that will give you the priests and religious that you so desperately need in the years to come. They are the ones that will fund your bishop’s appeal.


And yet we are mostly neglected by “the hierarchy.” The Church just spent millions of dollars on these two synods (airfare, housing, hotel, security) and to be honest, it was a big let down for those of us leading actually families.

We are “just laypeople” but would you please offer us some tangible encouragement – especially our wives who are viewed as pitiful pawns of an oppressive patriarchy?

We Need Clerical Coaches of Encouragement:

We are now a persecuted minority in the world, and we need some coaches on the sidelines slapping us on the back and shouting “Way to go team!” as we come off the field.

If you’re a priest or a bishop reading this, please consider becoming one of those encouraging coaches.

Personal story: When I was on pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, I went to confession to a priest. Some of my sins related to the frustrations of running a large family. The priest gave me solid advice.

Before absolution, the priest said:

“Heh brother. On behalf of the entire Catholic Church, thanks for trying hard and having a large family. It’s not easy and you’re doing it. Thank you. It’s beautiful.”

And you know what, I just blew up into tears. Total face melt. I didn’t expect to have that kind of response. It was just so cool to hear. After that priest said that, I was ready to fight for the Catholic Church, my wife and kids, as the most zealous apostle. I had wind in my sails and I was given enough fuel to go another 10 years. I was charged up.

My appeal to bishops and priests: Be that kind of priest in the pulpit and within the confessional. You will have loyal lay people that march through Hell for you. And with the way things are going in the years to come, you’re gonna need it.

Just a layman,
Taylor Marshall

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Question: To all the other families out there: What do you think? Did the Synod fail you? How else do we encourage our struggling families? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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