Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, right, leaves a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 9. Aubert Martin CNS/Paul Haring

Scripture’s truth must overcome secular culture

  • October 14, 2015

The Church must uphold “the objective truths of Sacred Scripture” in the face of a secular culture that poses a grave challenge to the Christian view of family, Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins told the Synod of Bishops meeting in the Vatican.

As the Synod grapples with a variety of family related issues, including divorce, remarriage, common-law and same-sex relationships, Collins used his threeminute address to Synod fathers on Oct. 10 to urge a pastoral approach that is founded on the Gospel.

“Our mission is to make disciples, but secular culture is more effective in unmaking them,” he said.

“This is nowhere more evident than in the secular vision of the family, of sexuality, of gender, of fidelity, and of the human person.”

Collins said it is necessary to provide pastoral care that acknowledges “where people are at, in their subjective personal situations,” but the Church must do so with “evangelical integrity.”

“We must effectively share with them the objective truths of Sacred Scripture and tradition which challenge the secular assumptions that they draw in with the air they breathe,” he said. “The goal is to form missionary disciples within the family who will evangelize the world.”

People in all situations should be treated with compassion, but it should be “a compassion that challenges” the pervasive cultural interpretation of relationships, sexuality and family.

To that end, Collins offered four suggestions to achieve that objective.

First, when pastors accompany people in their daily struggles they must imitate Jesus by preaching a call to conversion with “clarity and charity.”

Second, Church leaders must accept the task of forming messengers, particularly among parents, who the Church entrusts to evangelize their children.

Third, Collins said that men in particular must be challenged to assume their responsibility in society to become role models “so that the young are not deprived” of finding the “path that can sustain their hope.”

Finally, he said young people need to be presented with what Collins called “the fullness of God’s plan for human love” complete with its challenges but also with an invitation to “heroic sanctity.”

Ultimately, he said the objective is to achieve the mandate from Jesus to “Go make disciples.”

When confronted with the wide range of issues affecting families, the Church should focus on the true meaning of accompaniment, Collins told Catholic News Service prior to his Synod speech.

“First we always must be with the people where they are, where they begin,” he said.

But there must also be a call for repentance and conversion to “help people to go where the Lord calls them to go.”

“Just to have accompaniment as people are moving in the direction away from the Lord is not enough,” he said. “We need to be with them in order to help people to follow our Lord.

“The truest compassionate mercy is a compassion that challenges,” which means helping people “become what God wants them to be.”

More Synod coverage on Pages 10,11,19.

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