CNWE Discussion Guide on Catholic Family Life

In November 2013, the Vatican published “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization” as a preparatory document for an Extraordinary General Assembly to be held in October 2014. This Synod will lay the groundwork for a subsequent Ordinary General Assembly in 2015, which will “seek working guidelines in the pastoral care of the person and the family.” The Vatican’s preparatory document included a survey for bishops to distribute “as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received.”

As many of you know, Dioceses around the world took various approaches to seeking input, raising significant concerns about the validity, global comprehensiveness and transparency of the process. Some reform groups have designed their own surveys and have published the results.

CNWE’s National Work Group discerned that a feminist approach to seeking a greater understanding of family in a Catholic context would necessarily begin with our experiences of family, and not as the survey does with magisterial teaching.

The NWG therefore is inviting CNWE members to participate in a lively national discussion on family life in relation to our focus on justice and equality for women in the Church and in the world. We encourage individual CNWE members and local groups to make use of this discussion guide as they see fit. The questions in each section, by no means exhaustive, are meant to be suggestions for individuals or groups to reflect on different aspects of their experiences of family life.

If you use this resource, please take notes (without including members’ names) so that the substance of your discussion can be shared with others in CNWE. (Due to the personal nature of these questions, the option to refrain from sharing must be fully respected in group contexts). Please send the notes to The NWG will collect all written reports of conversations and summarize them in a report for members.

To download the Guide, click CNWE Discussion Guide on Catholic Family Life