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The Synod on the Family: Addressing the Instrumentum Laboris

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September 11, 2015 - 10:26 PDT


STEUBENVILLE, OH--Nearly 1,000 attendees heard His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke deliver a keynote address September 8 at Franciscan University of Steubenville on the Instrumentum Laboris, the draft document for the XIV Ordinary General Synod of Bishops, which will meet at the Vatican in October to address the mission of the family in the Church and in the world.
Cardinal Burke's nearly hour-long discourse was titled, "Canonical Questions Regarding the Proposed Pastoral Care of the Faithful Who Are Divorced and Have Attempted Marriage."

His address--a Franciscan University Henkels Lecture--and the panel discussion with Franciscan faculty and other academic experts that followed his talk, can be viewed at

With a doctorate in canon law and years of study in Rome, Cardinal Burke is one of the foremost authorities on Roman Catholic law. For many years he served in the Roman Curia in the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura--the Church's highest court. He currently is the Cardinal Patronus of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Cardinal Burke addressed many of the main issues concerning marriage in the Catholic Church through 10 themes: The Instrumentum Laboris and the Matrimonial Nullity Process; The Nature of the Synod of Bishops and the Question of the Marriage Nullity Process; The Risk of Sentimentalism; The Relationship Between Faith and Culture; The Relationship Between Doctrine and Discipline; Confidence in the Natural Law and in the Grace of Matrimony; Natural Law and the Formation of the Conscience in the Family; Natural Marriage and Sacramental Marriage; The Liturgical Rite of Marriage and the Favor of the Law; and A Note on a Penitential Path.

Following Cardinal Burke's address, eight panelists gave short presentations summarizing their essays on different aspects of the Instrumentum Laboris.
Panelists included Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, JD, JCD, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville and an expert on canon law, on "The Indissolubility of Marriage and the Problem of Relativism"; Donald Asci, STD, professor of moral theology at Franciscan University, on "The Evil of Divorce and the Dignity of the Human Person: Understanding the Immorality of Divorce Through St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body"; John Bergsma, PhD, professor of biblical theology at Franciscan University, on "Pharisaism and Marriage"; Mrs. Pia Crosby, Franciscan University MA theology student, and Stephen Hildebrand, PhD, professor of theology and chair of the Department of Theology at Franciscan University, on "Oikonomia in the Church Today: Divorce and Remarriage in the Early Church and Developments From Vatican II to the Present"; Michael Sirilla, PhD, professor of systematic and dogmatic theology and the director of Graduate Theology at Franciscan University, on "Communion for the Divorced and Remarried"; Patrick Lee, PhD, McAleer professor of bioethics and the director of the Center for Bioethics at Franciscan University, on "Marriage as a Natural Community Requires a Lifelong Commitment"; and Peter Kwasniewski, PhD, professor of theology and philosophy at Wyoming Catholic College, on "How the Liturgical Reform Has Contributed to the Crisis of the Synod."

Each panelist's essay will be included in From the Beginning: The Mission and Vocation of the Family in the Contemporary World, a book from Emmaus Road Publishing and the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. To order From the Beginning, visit

Photo of Cardinal Burke delivering address:
Photo of Cardinal Burke with attendees:
Photo of panel discussion:
Photo of Cardinal Burke at Pontifical High Mass, St. Peter's Catholic Church, Tuesday, September 8:


Franciscan University of Steubenville
OH, 43952 US
Tom Sofio - Associate Director of Public Relations,


Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Franciscan University, Synod of Bishops on the Family, Marriage


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