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BC Expert: Synod of Bishops on the family

Thomas Groome


Thomas Groome is director of the Church in the 21st Century and professor of theology and religious education at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Groome’s areas of expertise are Catholic and religious education, issues of the Catholic Church and society; religion and politics; the papacy; pastoral ministry, spiritual practices. He is the author of numerous books including Catholic Spiritual PracticesWill There Be Faith?; and What Makes Us Catholic: Eight Gifts for Life, among others. Groome is also the primary author of various religious education curricula which are widely used in Catholic schools and parishes; his most recent curriculum is The Credo Series for high school-age students from Veritas.

Office: 617-552-8449
Cell: 617-875-5325



As Catholic Church leaders try to hammer out differences at the Synod of Bishops – which wraps up Sunday in Rome – a Boston College expert says no matter what the final advisory report looks like, there is already a significant accomplishment.

“To me the greatest achievement of this Synod is the fact that Pope Francis has basically lifted the embargo on the conversations that John Paul II and Benedict had put in place,” says Thomas Groome, director of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College.

Among the difficult conversations topics of the bishops: Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics who do not have an annulment, the language to be used in speaking about homosexuals, and couples living together outside of marriage – discussions you might not have even heard five or ten years ago.

“There is a real freedom of expression within the Synod - issues like Catholics who have divorced and remarried receiving the Eucharist, young people living together before getting married, the spiritual rights of gay Catholics – are all fair game,” says Groome, a professor of theology and ministry.  “Now they are openly discussed by the leadership of the Church in Rome with the Pope sitting there and encouraging them rather than discouraging the conversation.”

Groome says the new parameters are attributed to the background and life experiences of the pontiff.

“I think his own experience, his own background as a Jesuit is the main reasons. He was in the trenches as archbishop of Buenos Aires and before then, he worked very closely with people – he knows their pain, he knows their struggles, he knows the difficulties of married and family life. I think his own pastoral practices have given him a great empathy and sympathy for these issues, and his spirituality grounds that.”



Media Note: Contact information for additional Boston College faculty sources on a range of subjects is available at: /offices/pubaf/journalist/experts.html


Sean Hennessey
Associate Director
Office of News and Public Affairs
Boston College

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