The Family Synod Takes Place

An article on the 1980 Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome

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“Everything we have said about marriage and the family can be summed up in two words: love and life. As we come to the end of this Synod, we pray that you, our brothers and sisters, may grow in the love and life of God. In turn we humbly and gratefully beg your prayers that we may do the same. We make St Paul’s words to the Colossians our final words to you: “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect. Christ’s peace must reign in your hearts, since as members of the one body you have been called to that peace. Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness.” (Col 3, 14-15).   Message to Families from the World Synod of Bishops, 1980

The Fifth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops met in Rome from 26 September – October 25 1980. 148 bishops and 68 other delegates from across the globe, came together to discuss the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World. It was the first international meeting of John Paul II’s papacy and the world was poised to see what the Pope from Poland would be like.

Cardinal Basil Hume and Archbishop Derek Worlock were delegated to attend the Synod on behalf of the Bishops of England and Wales. Accompanying them were Mgr George Leonard, Mgr Joseph Leo Alston and Fr Vincent Nichols. According to Clifford Longley, in his book The Worlock Archive, Cardinal Hume and Archbishop Worlock agreed to each bring to the attention of the Synod one of the concerns that arose from the National Pastoral Congress.

During the second phase of the Synod, Cardinal Hume chaired one of the English language groups, with Archbishop Worlock acting as relator. In his interview, Archbishop Vincent talks about the implications of this responsibility for the rest of the team.


Dr David Thomas
Dr Thomas attended the Synod as a theological adviser, or peritus, to the American bishops. He puts the Synod into historical context and shares his memories of the event.


Cardinal Hume’s famous ‘I had a dream’ Intervention

Pope John Paul II’s Closing Homily to the 1980 Synod

World Bishops’ Message to Families 1980

Marginal Man at the Synod
A fascinating insight into the five weeks of the 1980 synod written by Dr David Thomas who lived and worked with the US delegation as a theological adviser (Marriage and Family Living Magazine December 1980/Jan 1981).