The Extraordinary Synod on the Family, meeting in Rome this month, has released a statement outlining its deliberations and conclusions. This document will be discussed in the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops scheduled for October 2015. The statement demonstrates the wide-ranging nature of the debates, the tension between theological reflection and pastoral need and practice, and represents a substantial change in tone from previous Church documents — though not, it is at pains to point out, in doctrine. The full text (at present available in unofficial translation) is well worth reading, and can be found here. The text is taken from the Vatican website. Especially interesting is the realistic, informed picture of the reality of family life today throughout the world; discussion of Civil Partnerships, Co-habitation before, and instead of, marriage; the pastoral care of divorced and divorced-remarried people; the position of homosexual individuals, couples and families in the life of the Church. Clearly the official beginning of a vital discussion for our Church, and to be welcomed as such. Fr Ed