Pope says care for divorced not only synod topic

Pope Francis has urged the synod on the family not to act as if the only question is pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

Francis said this in an unscheduled intervention during the second day of the synod in Rome.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi told reporters that the Pope affirmed that “Catholic doctrine on marriage has not been touched or put into question”.

The Pope also said: “We should not let ourselves be conditioned by or to reduce the horizons of our work as if the only problem were that of Communion for the divorced and remarried or not,” Father Lombardi reported.

The Vatican did not release the text of the Pope’s remarks.

Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, writing on his blog, said that during open discussion at the synod on Monday, some bishops were “uneasy about the impression given by the presentation of Cardinal (Peter) Erdo in the morning that some key questions are already decided and seemingly off the table”.

“They felt that such a stance was premature,” Archbishop Coleridge wrote.

Cardinal Erdo, the synod general relator, had said “merciful pastoral accompaniment is due” to the divorced and civilly remarried.

But this cannot leave in doubt “the truth of indissolubility of marriage, taught by Jesus Christ himself”, he added.

“The mercy of God offers the sinner forgiveness, but requires conversion,” said the cardinal.

“It is not the failing of the first marriage but the living in a second relationship that impedes access to the Eucharist.”

But the following day, Italian Archbishop Claudio Celli said discourse on the matter is still open.

Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher noted there could well be differences of opinion as to whether Church practice towards the divorced and remarried represented doctrine that could not be changed, or a discipline.

Vatican spokesman Fr Thomas Rosica said on Tuesday that among the subjects raised by synod participants was a suggestion the Church’s pastoral practice to divorced and remarried persons could perhaps be determined by national or regional bishops’ conferences.


News category: World.

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