Tags: Gay Marriage | Pope Francis | catholics | pope francis | bishops | reform

US Bishops Struggle With Pope's Views on Marriage, Gays

By    |   Wednesday, 12 November 2014 08:07 AM

Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, many of whom were appointed by Pope Francis' two far more-conservative predecessors, are finding it difficult to understand the changes the pontiff wants for the church as it moves forward.

"The Pope is saying some very challenging things for people," Bishop Blase Cupich, who Pope Francis has appointed to replace Cardinal Francis George as the next archbishop of Chicago, told The New York Times. 

"He's not saying, this is the law and you follow it and you get to heaven. He's saying we have to do something about our world today that's suffering; people are being excluded, neglected. We have a responsibility, and he's calling people to task."

Even Cupich's appointment is raising eyebrows as the nation's bishops meet in Baltimore for their fall conference this week. Without meeting Cupich, Francis chose the Spokane, Washington, diocese bishop for the powerful Chicago spot, and passed over archbishops who had been in line for the assignment.

America's bishops aren't only confounded by such appointments, but by the pontiff's call for the church to discuss matters that had been considered already settled, such as its position on same-sex relationships, couples who live together without being married, and allowing the divorced and remarried to take communion.

And while many church leaders, like Cupich, endorse fully Pope Francis' call for change, more conservative ones are refusing the changes. On Saturday, the Pope removed Cardinal Raymond Burke as head of the Vatican's highest court, demoting him to the ceremonial post of chaplain of the charity group Knights of Malta after he gave a series of scathing interviews on the pontiff's reform efforts.

Until Burke was demoted, he was the highest-ranking American at the Vatican.

Bishops at the Baltimore meeting, being held just weeks after a Rome synod that revealed a split in the church's two factions, are also asking questions about where Pope Francis' vision is leading the church.

"He says wonderful things," the outgoing Cardinal George told the Times of Pope Francis. "But he doesn't put them together all the time, so you're left at times puzzling over what his intention is. What he says is clear enough, but what does he want us to do?"

George is 77 and undergoing cancer treatment, but will remain a voting cardinal until he reaches the age of 80. He said he wants to meet with the Pope and thank him for allowing him to retire, but to also ask him about what his intentions are.

However, church leaders returning from the Roman synod told the bishops in Baltimore this week that the meeting was not as divisive as many reports would have them believe, pointing out that consensus was reached on all but three passages of the synod's final document.

Those items concerned same-sex relationships and the church's position on divorce and remarriage.

"Too bad we missed that real synod, brothers, because the one we were at was hardly as spicy," Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York told the gathering.

Bishops on Wednesday will elect four people among their ranks to travel with Dolan and Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl to the church's 2015 synod.

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Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, many of whom were appointed by Pope Francis' two far more-conservative predecessors, are finding it difficult to understand the changes the pontiff wants for the church as it moves forward.
catholics, pope francis, bishops, reform
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2014-07-12
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 08:07 AM
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