News / Europe

Pope Urges Cardinals to Tackle Divisive Family Issues With Courage

Pope Francis leaves at the end of the afternoon session of an extraordinary consistory in the Synod hall at the Vatican City, Feb. 20, 2014.
Pope Francis leaves at the end of the afternoon session of an extraordinary consistory in the Synod hall at the Vatican City, Feb. 20, 2014.
Reuters
Pope Francis on Thursday urged cardinals gathered to discuss family-related issues such as contraception, cohabitation, divorce and gay relationships to be "intelligent, courageous and loving" in their debate.
 
He was opening two days of closed-door sessions with some 185 cardinals from around the world to prepare for an autumn synod of bishops that will discuss the issues at greater length.
 
“We are called to make known God's magnificent plan for the family and to help spouses joyfully experience this plan in their lives, as we accompany them amidst so many difficulties, even with a pastoral plan that is intelligent, courageous and full of love," Francis told the cardinals.
 
While there is no possibility that the Church will change its teachings against abortion and gay marriage, many Catholics hope that the autumn synod could lead to modifications of its stance on other family-related issues For example, Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside the Church without an annulment are now barred from receiving communion.
 
The meeting is being held in the wake of a worldwide survey of Catholics - an unusually open move for a traditionally top-down institution - that is showing a deep divide between Church officials and the faithful on issues of sexual morality.
 
Significantly, the pope chose German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who clashed with former Pope Benedict over theological issues and who is a leading proponent of reaching out to the remarried, to give the keynote address.
 
Church Not a Democracy

Kasper told the assembly that the autumn synod would have to try to remain "faithful to the word of Jesus (regarding the indissolubility of marriage) while showing God's mercy" to Catholics in such predicaments.
 
A growing number of Church officials believe the communion ban should be lifted in order to welcome remarried Catholics back into full participation in the 1.2 billion-member Church, particularly those in situations such as where an abandoned spouse remarries outside the Church.
 
Kasper later told reporters that the pope had "opened a dialogue" but that he did not expect fundamental changes to doctrine.

“The Church is not a democracy, it is the fruit of a synod-run process which is a different thing from democracy. In the end, the pope is the one who decides, that is clear," he said.
 
In his address, Francis said the Church leaders should "seek to deepen the theology of the family and discern the pastoral practices which our present situation requires."
 
In preparation for the autumn synod, the Vatican asked local churches to survey their faithful about teachings on sexual morality related to the family. Bishops in some countries, including Britain, opted not to publish their findings, but those published by German, Swiss and Japanese bishops showed that many people did not know Church teachings fully or rejected them as unrealistic and heartless.

They showed that most Catholics in those countries disputed bans on contraception, premarital or gay sex and criticized the rules regarding divorced Catholics.
 
Addressing the gathering of cardinals, Francis called the family the "fundamental cell of society" and indirectly re-stated the Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage." From the beginning the Creator blessed man and woman so that they might be fruitful and multiply," he said, calling the family an image of "God in the world."

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid