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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid