Catholic bishops start divisive summit

2015-10-05 18:00
Pope Francis arrives for the opening session of a two-week bishops' meeting on family issues, at the Vatican. (Alessandra Tarantino, AP)

Pope Francis arrives for the opening session of a two-week bishops' meeting on family issues, at the Vatican. (Alessandra Tarantino, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Vatican City - Pope Francis said on Monday that Catholic Church leaders should not be afraid to thrash out their differences, as they embark on a three-week debate on the controversial question of whether to soften their stance towards divorcees and homosexuals.

About 270 cardinals, bishops and prelates are taking part in a Vatican-hosted October 4-25 summit, known as the Synod of Bishops. It is not expected to change church doctrine, but to discuss how its teaching can be adapted to modern lifestyles.

In an opening speech, Francis urged delegates to "courageously engage in pharresia" - meaning open, frank debate - and warned them against behaving like politicians, bargaining their way into a lowest-common denominator deal.

He said the synod "is not a parliament, where you make a common agreement, a negotiation, a settlement, or compromises: The only way is to open yourself to the Holy Spirit with apostolic courage and evangelical humility".

The most divisive issue at stake is whether a longstanding ban on remarried divorcees taking communion could be dropped. Several cardinals on both sides of the argument have warned that the Vatican risks a schism over the controversy.

Church attitudes towards same-sex couples are also a flashpoint issue. On Saturday, the Vatican was rocked by the decision of one of its theologians to tell an Italian newspaper that he was gay and living with another man.

Poland-born Monsignor Krysztof Charasma was stripped of his duties after his admission. Vatican spokerperson Father Federico Lombardi called his move "very serious and irresponsible" because it placed synod participants under "undue media pressure".

The synod is also expected to discuss other challenges to the Catholic doctrine, such as the use of artificial contraceptives, cohabitation out of wedlock, and the detrimental effect of poverty and migration on family unity.

In a formal mass in St Peter's Cathedral, which opened the three-week summit on Sunday, Francis defended marriage as an unbreakable bond between man and woman and said the church should not be influenced by "passing fads or popular opinions".

But the pontiff also called for a merciful church, capable of being "a good Samaritan to wounded humanity", and said that a "closed doors" church "betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock".

Read more on:    pope francis  |  vatican city  |  religion

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.