Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the Church needs to find more ways to bring joy to families.

October 20, 2014
CAROL GLATZ
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

VATICAN CITY – The Church needs to find better ways to show how the Gospel message is a way of life meant to bring great joy to couples and families, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said during the synod on the family.

The Gospel is not a burdensome set of rules aimed at exclusion, said Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec.

"Church teaching has to be rediscovered not as a set of rules, but as a true good news, a good news that frees people," Durocher told Catholic News Service Oct. 8.

"God's plan for marriage is not a structure in which people have to bind themselves in order to somehow gain God's love. God's plan for marriage is a gift of God's love for us," he said.

Synod briefers have told reporters that a recurring theme at the synod is the relationship between being faithful to God's truth and being a Church of mercy that embraces those who suffer.

TRUTH BRINGS HEALING

The archbishop said that "tension between teaching and pastoral care disappears" when people recognize that living the teaching brings healing.

"The teaching itself is a form of pastoral care," he said.

Durocher told reporters during a briefing Oct. 9 that breaking truth and mercy into two opposing camps "is unjust."

Bishops not in favour of admitting divorced and civilly married Catholics to the Eucharist are exercising mercy "because mercy is bringing people to the truth."

Likewise, to say that those who are looking for ways to make Communion more accessible "are not concerned with justice or with truth – that also would be unjust to use that language," he said.

What the Church is trying to do "is find what is the will of God, and that will is a will of justice and of mercy," he said.

The previous day, Durocher told CNS that the challenge is how bishops, religious and faithfully married couples can get that point across to everyone.

WORK TO DO

"We have a lot of work to do to find out ways of expressing (God's plan): Why is faithfulness a gift? Why is fruitfulness in marriage a gift? Why is fidelity to one's partner a gift? Why is reconciliation a gift?"

Then we need to ask how can these teachings "become a way of life for people?" he said.

Not everyone is able to live in the way God wants and many people struggle, experience failure and "are hurt by terrible situations with families, within marriages," he said.

Durocher said the synod proceedings have been showing that "all the bishops agree that we have to find ways" to help those in need.

The question of access to Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics also has to be seen through the lens of accompanying people more effectively in order to bring them closer to what God offers, he said.

EXPERIENCE OF EXCLUSION

When people realize their irregular situation means they cannot receive Communion, they see that "as an exclusion" from the Church and Church life, he said.

Experiencing this situation as exclusion "is certainly not what Jesus wants for people who are struggling," he said.

Durocher said the challenge is to find ways to accompany these people in a way that they can still feel welcome, and, better yet, help couples build a marriage that will last.