|Boston College Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, former US ambassador to the Vatican, moderated a discussion with Princeton Prof. Robert George in 2009. Both have signed a letter to Catholic bishops urging them to uphold traditional marriage. (Paul Haring/CNS)|
One sign that a summit is viewed as crucial is when a tug-of-war breaks out to shape its agenda and outcome. By that standard, the looming Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family appears a very big deal indeed.
In the run-up to the synod, we’ve already seen cardinals publicly jousting over the contentious issue of whether the Church ought to relax its ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion.
Activists and rank-and-file believers alike have entered the fray on all manner of issues related to the family, with the latest to-do involving a cross-section of 48 mostly conservative intellectuals and ministers, including not just Catholics but also Protestant luminaries such as Rick Warren, urging the synod to hold the line in defense of traditional marriage.
Their open letter to the synod, sent to Rome through diplomatic channels in late September and also posted on the Internet, does not engage any of the hot-button issues expected to surface at the meeting, such as gay marriage or the communion ban for divorced and remarried believers.
The implied message, however, seems clear: Now is the wrong time to go soft.
Traditional Christian teachings on marriage, the signatories say, “represent true love, not ‘exclusion’ or ‘prejudice’ or any of the other charges brought against marriage today.” The letter is entitled, “Commitment to Marriage,” and the full text can be read here.
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