2nd Family Synod in 30 years: Familiaris Consortio!
USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz reminds us that the 2014 Synod on the Family is not the only one to have taken place in history. In fact, he makes reference to a Synod during the pontificate of JPII:
the principle of gradualness, which might be very helpful to the evangelizer in the process of accompanying individuals. The pastoral principle of gradualness and what it means and does not mean is actually found in St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, which was issued as the fruit of the last synod on the family over 30 years ago.
He goes on to explain the law,
In considering the role of the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, the Synod delegates ask what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage; how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church? The theological notion of the law of gradualness and its authentic implementation in the Catholic tradition must be carefully understood in order to answer these questions[…]The “law of gradualness” cannot be interpreted as “gradualness of the law” which implies that the law is “merely an ideal to be achieved in the future” (FC 34). Any suggestion that would cause the law of gradualness to be equated or even related to relativism or proportionalism must be avoided, since both relativism and proportionalism are foreign to magisterial teaching (Veritatis Splendor 65ff, esp. 75). Along these lines, and as noted in the Vademecum for Confessors (1997), “the pastoral ‘law of gradualness’ must not be confused with ‘gradualness of the law’ which would tend to diminish the demands it places on us” (VC 3.9). The law of gradualness, “consists of requiring a decisive break with sin together with a progressive path towards total union with the will of God and with his loving demands” (VC 3.9, emphasis in original). Therefore, the willingness to abide by Jesus’ teaching on such matters, including a decisive break from sin, should be regarded as an essential starting point for gradual growth in holiness.
In essence, a call to repentance and conformity to the life of Christ is at hand. I count two total documents authored by St. John Paul II in Archbishop Kurtz’s references (Familiaris Constortio and Veritatis Splendor)!