Church must reach out to gays, divorced, Philippine bishop says

By Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — The church must widen its reach to gays and divorced Catholics, said the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, in an Oct. 21 statement after the Synod of Bishops on the family, called for a merciful approach to ministering to the faithful by emulating Christ and not casting stones at sinners.

“In facing our Catholic brethren in painful broken marriage situations or our brothers and sisters with homosexual attraction quietly struggling to be chaste, Pope Francis said we must avoid two temptations: ‘The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast; and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick, (and) add to their already unbearable burdens,'” he said. Continue reading

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Cardinal Pell calls for ‘no doctrinal back-flips’ at next family synod

CNS Blog

By Robert Duncan

ROME (CNS) – Referring to the Synod of Bishops on the Family that will convene in 2015, Cardinal George Pell wrote that the task for Catholics “over the next 12 months” is to explain “the necessity of conversion, the nature of the Mass,” and “the purity of heart the Scriptures require of us to receive holy Communion.”

“We will be counterproductive if we have anger or hate in our hearts, if we lapse into sterile polemics against a surprisingly small number of Catholic opponents,” the cardinal wrote.

Cardinal Pell’s remarks appeared in a homily he prepared for his celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form October 24 for the 2014 Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome.

The cardinal was unable to celebrate the Mass on account of bronchitis. In an additional prepared text, he assured those present that his sickness was the only reason he was unable to attend.

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Cardinal Wuerl says family synod came to ‘real consensus’

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family came to a “real consensus” after two weeks of animated debate, and that its final report will serve as a solid basis for the world synod on the family in 2015.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington talks with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, before the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington talks with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, before the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“What we saw and what we ended up with was the result of a free and open process. The pope at the very beginning said speak with clarity and charity and listen with humility and that’s what happened,” Cardinal Wuerl told Catholic News Service Oct. 20.

The cardinal said the only “glitch” in the process came with the synod’s Oct. 13 midterm report, which made headlines with its strikingly conciliatory language toward people with ways of life contrary to Catholic teaching, including divorced and remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and people in same-sex unions.

The midterm report was “seen by many as not being as balanced as it should have been. At least from their perspective, it wasn’t as reflective of the balance in the discussions,” the cardinal said.

As a result, he said, “it was really important that that final (report) be a consensus document.”

Cardinal Wuerl, who served on the 11-member team that drafted the final report, said “there were a number of things that you see in this final document that were only lightly touched upon (in the midterm report), and then there were things you see in that (midterm report) that aren’t in here at all.” Continue reading

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Analysis: Family synod’s dynamics recalled the Second Vatican Council

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Even before the start of the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family, observers were likening it to the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.

Pope Francis arrives for the concluding business session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 18. Also pictured are Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem and Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis arrives for the concluding business session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 18. Also pictured are Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem and Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil. (CNS/Paul Haring)

In both cases, an innovative and charismatic pope called an assembly in the first months of his pontificate, seeking to preach the Gospel in terms of contemporary culture and apply Catholic teaching with what St. John XXIII called the “medicine of mercy.”

As it turned out, history also repeated itself in the institutional dynamics of this year’s event, as bishops from around the world asserted their collective authority, leading the assembly’s organizers in Rome to revise some of their best-laid plans.

A classic history, “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber,” recounts the first tumultuous week of Vatican II, when bishops rejected the Vatican’s handpicked candidates for the commissions that would write the council documents.

“It was not a revolutionary act, but an act of conscience, an act of responsibility on the part of the council fathers,” recalled Pope Benedict XVI in 2013. Then-Father Joseph Ratzinger attended Vatican II as a theological adviser to Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne, Germany, one of the leaders of the bishops’ resistance. Continue reading

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CNS video — Cardinal Wuerl discusses synod, what happens next

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington discusses the conclusion of the synod on the family.

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Archbishop Kurtz urges more transparency at next family synod

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, said the October 2015 world Synod of Bishops on the family should return to the practice of previous synods in publishing participants’ interventions, for the benefit of their discussions and the information of the outside world.

The archbishop, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke with Catholic News Service Oct. 19, the last day of the extraordinary synod on the family Pope Francis called to prepare an agenda for next year’s assembly.

This year’s synod departed from established procedure by requiring participants to submit written interventions in advance. The texts were not distributed, not even to synod fathers, whose brief remarks in the hall were not reported to the press, another departure from previous practice. Continue reading

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Pope beatifies Blessed Paul VI, the ‘great helmsman’ of Vatican II

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Beatifying Blessed Paul VI at the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis praised the late pope as the “great helmsman” of the Second Vatican Council and founder of the synod, as well as a “humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church.”

The pope spoke during a homily in St. Peter’s Square at a Mass for more than 30,000 people, under a sunny sky on an unseasonably warm Oct. 19.

“When we look to this great pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks,” the pope said, drawing applause from the congregation, which included retired Pope Benedict, whom Blessed Paul made a cardinal in 1977.

“Facing the advent of a secularized and hostile society, (Blessed Paul) could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom — and at times alone — to the helm of the barque of Peter,” Pope Francis said, in a possible allusion to “Humanae Vitae,” the late pope’s 1968 encyclical, which affirmed Catholic teaching against contraception amid widespread dissent. Continue reading

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