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The Synod on the Family: Multi-disciplinary Perspectives from the American Context

This DSPT Symposium—part of the 2016 Convocation of the College of Fellows—considered the 2015 Synod on the Family in relation to our American context and explored the family in the USA from a variety of perspectives, seeking to more deeply understand the Church’s teaching on the family with an aim to discern how to creatively and faithfully apply it in our culture today.

For more information about the College of Fellows, visit

The Family in US and California Public Policy – Ned Dolejsi

But what's this all got to do with Family and Public Policy?  My contention is that family is the instrument of evangelization in the present cultural moment. The nature and reality of family responsibly and effectively proclaimed in the public order and family as a larger metaphor for who we are individually and collectively presented in language in our public life can both gradually transform our public life and speak to the isolation and yearning for meaning so prevalent in ourselves, particularly our young.

In the political arena we now need to shift to a more positive agenda that focuses on statutory and tax policy, regulation and budget action that stabilizes families, however constituted, economically and socially.  We must encourage marriage, relational stability, with a primary emphasis on children and their well-being.  We must articulate the responsible exercise of parental rights, gently but firmly asking for society to reflect the "in loco parentis" relationship between parents and government.

Without wagging fingers, we should espouse public responses to those children who are and have been damaged by the choices of others - foster children, homeless children, child criminals, children seeking their parents.  We must speak out loudly with compassion and programmatic witness.  The family must become "the subject of our evangelization" in the culture.  While pastorally and catechetically families and children are the object of our efforts, families and children can become the subject of our evangelization efforts in the culture, specifically in the political world.  By inviting elected leaders at all levels and our citizen neighbors to see ourselves and the good society through the eyes of individuals, especially children as loved, cared for and flourishing. 

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