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Pope at Synod's End: 'Today Is a Time of Mercy'

Pope at Synod's End: 'Today Is a Time of Mercy'

Sunday, 25 October 2015 10:18 PM

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis declared Sunday that "Today is a time of mercy!" as he closed out a historic meeting of bishops that approved an important new direction in welcoming divorced and civilly remarried Catholics into the church.

The endorsement of the new direction by a single vote at the divisive, three-week synod was a clear victory for Francis and the progressive wing of the church which has been seeking wiggle room in church teaching to allow these remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Conservatives had objected, citing church doctrine, but they couldn't muster the votes needed to block passage of the final document.

With the badly divided church hierarchy before him in St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday, Francis took veiled aim at those in the church who place more importance on doctrine and law than on God's mercy and forgiveness.

He warned them of the risk of "becoming habitually unmoved by grace," of turning a cold shoulder to God's most wounded children and of a "spiritual illusion" that doesn't let them see the reality of their flock before them and respond to it.

"We are capable of developing views of the world, but we do not accept what the Lord places before our eyes," he said. "A faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts."

Without changing church doctrine, the 275 synod "fathers" on Saturday approved a 94-point final document endorsing Francis' call for a more merciful and less judgmental church. The most disputed section of the document concerned whether remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

While the document doesn't chart any specific path to receiving the sacraments as originally sought by liberal prelates, it opens the door to case-by-case exceptions by citing the role of discernment and individual conscience in spiritual direction.

The key paragraph 85, which says a case-by-case approach is necessary when dealing with remarriage since not everyone bears the same responsibility for the preceding divorce — passed with only one vote more than the two-thirds majority necessary.

Its passage will give Francis the room to maneuver that he needs if he wants to push the issue further in a future document of his own. German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who spearheaded the German theological initiative that was decisive to getting the majority, said he hoped that Francis would issue it during his upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, which starts Dec. 8.

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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Pope Francis declared Sunday that "Today is a time of mercy!" as he closed out a historic meeting of bishops that approved an important new direction in welcoming divorced and civilly remarried Catholics into the church.The endorsement of the new direction by a single vote...
EU, REL, Vatican, Families
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2015-18-25
Sunday, 25 October 2015 10:18 PM
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