Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O'Donnell was in Rome last month to attend the Pontifical Council for the Family's 21st Plenary Assembly, the college announced. O'Donnell was appointed to the council in 2002, by Pope John Paul II and reappointed by Pope Benedict XVI.
At the Plenary Assembly, O'Donnell joined cardinals, bishops and other scholars in discussion about topics regarding the family, including "the role of the State in recognizing marriage." Pope Francis assigned the council members to draft a document addressing "concerns on the state of the family," which will be presented at the synod of bishops next year.
O'Donnell led a discussion on the family at the assembly, which will serve as a basis for the document to be presented at the 2014 synod. O'Donnell is currently tasked with drafting a report "on the insights of the English speaking countries" for the Vatican.
O'Donnell described experiencing the "Catholicity" of the Church at the council.
He said, "So many countries were represented and it was wonderful to be of service to the Holy Father in this crucial area where there is so much misunderstanding and confusion in our society. Anytime someone tries to change what a family is--a mom, a dad, kids--it is unacceptable."
During his time in Rome, O'Donnell had the privilege of meeting the Holy Father in a private audience held for council members.
He said of his encounter with the Pope, "He is really so personable. I was so moved by him--seeing him as someone who deeply loves family life. My wife, Cathy, was there with me and she brought a photo of our family, which [Pope Francis] blessed."
Christendom College is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.
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