A document "intended to provide an initial reference point" for the October Synod of Bishops on the family was released Thursday at the Vatican. The document acknowledges that "the primary task of the church is to proclaim the beauty of the vocation to love," but there is little beautiful or inspiring in this document. If married life is as boring and joyless as this document, I am glad I am celibate.
The 85-page document, called an instrumentum laboris or working paper, is based on responses to a questionnaire sent out from the Secretariat of the Synod in October. Compiling input from numerous sources does not lead to a coherent presentation or scintillating prose. Drawing up the paper was more difficult than usual because of the large number of responses and the limited time the secretariat had to do its job.
The secretariat undoubtedly did what it did for earlier synods: put the responses into two piles. Into the first and most important pile go the responses from bishops' conferences, the Roman Curia, and those bishops who will attend the synod. The second pile contains responses from individual bishops and others, including the laity. The first pile gets the most attention.