Tags: EU | REL | Vatican | Families

Bishops Wrap up Family Synod That Exposed Divisions

Saturday, 24 October 2015 07:18 AM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Catholic bishops from around the world vote Saturday on a final document to better minister to families following a contentious, three-week summit that exposed deep divisions among prelates over Pope Francis' call for a more merciful and less judgmental church.

Heading into the final day, indications were that the 270 bishops would not endorse any major new pastoral practice on ministering to gays or divorcees — the two most disputed issues at the synod. Conservatives, citing church doctrine, had strongly resisted calls by more progressive colleagues to offer a new approach.

The outcome was still uncertain as final amendments were being incorporated into the text Friday night and bishops would vote Saturday afternoon paragraph by paragraph, with a two-thirds majority needed for each to pass. But the sense was that in aiming for consensus, the final text would amount to a strong re-assertion of church teaching on marriage and family.

"I think the outcome was known before we even got on the plane," said Sister Maureen Kelleher, one of the handful of women invited to address the synod and participate in its discussions — albeit without a vote since women can't vote. She said she felt the prelates were "scared Pope Francis will change church doctrine," even though neither the synod nor the pope could do so.

Francis did, though, take some of the most divisive wind out of the debate even before the synod began by passing a new law making it easier for divorced couples to obtain an annulment, a church declaration that their marriage was invalid. That was aimed at answering a complaint by generations of Catholics denied the sacraments because they divorced and remarried outside the church without an annulment.

The synod though was about far more than the contentious issues, covering everything from how the church should provide better marriage preparation to new couples to finding better ways to encourage families torn by migration, poverty and war to persevere in the faith.

"I don't think in any of our families it's perfect," said Canadian Cardinal Gerald Lacroix. "All of our families, including mine and maybe yours and all of ours, have people who are struggling. We need to walk with them and help them."

With the debate taking place behind closed doors, the general public only saw glimpses of the fissures at play and was treated to a parallel synod playing out in the media — a common occurrence at closed-door Vatican meetings.

At the start, there was a leaked letter by 13 conservative cardinals to Francis complaining about synod procedures and warning that the Catholic Church itself was at risk of collapse if bishops went too far in accommodating the flock.

Midway through, the mudslinging spilled into newsprint when even high-ranking cardinals publicly criticized one another. German-speaking bishops made their displeasure official by starting off their final, written set of amendments with a public dressing down of Cardinal George Pell, the Australian who spearheaded the conservative charge at the synod against the German-led progressives.

And finally this week came the zinger: An Italian news report that Francis had a brain tumor. The Vatican vehemently denied the report and suggested it was aimed at manipulating the synod by suggesting Francis' health — and therefore his authority — was in question.

Through it all, bishops invited to brief the press each day downplayed the divisions, saying differences of opinion were to be expected given the geographic and cultural differences in a universal, global church of 1.2 billion. They said their biggest takeaway was that they would now go back home and listen more to their flock and accompany them more.

"If this synod were the church, I would say that it's the end of judging people, the end of a church that passes judgment on all the situations," said Belgian Bishop Lucas Van Looy. "It's a church that welcomes, a church that accompanies, a church that listens, a church that also speaks with clarity."

That may be what Francis had in mind all along.

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Europe
Catholic bishops from around the world vote Saturday on a final document to better minister to families following a contentious, three-week summit that exposed deep divisions among prelates over Pope Francis' call for a more merciful and less judgmental church.Heading into...
EU,REL,Vatican,Families
671
2015-18-24
Saturday, 24 October 2015 07:18 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved