Catholic bishops call for more welcoming church

Catholic bishops call for more welcoming church

"This can be a danger for us", Francis preached from St. Peter's Basilica. "Let us ask Him to turn to us with his healing and saving gaze, which knows how to radiate light, as it recalls the splendour which illuminates it".

Francis called this first temptation "spirituality of illusion". "And instead of an oasis, it creates more deserts".

"...The idea that the Church can stay within its own ways of doing thing pastorally and not be with people who are in very hard circumstances, in many cases living lives which are not fully in accordance with Church teaching, the idea that we could sit there and be away from those people, I think Pope Francis is saying that we've got to get out there..."

The text refers to conscience in sections dealing with procreation and with marital situations the church considers irregular, particularly the situation of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. He is also said to have met up with gay marriage antagonist Kim Davis - who's not even Catholic.

Change is never easy for the Catholic hierarchy. "That is not going to happen".

The 94-article document indicated that the assembly had chosen to avoid overtly controversial language and seek consensus in order to avoid deadlock on the most sensitive topics, leaving it up to the Pope to deal with the details.

Pope Francis on Sunday warned Catholic bishops against sticking too rigidly to church doctrine, marking the end of a high-level summit on the family at the Vatican which saw clergy approach a more open attitude towards divorcees.

It was the lack of progress on whether divorced Catholics can receive communion, on whether to welcome gays and lesbians, that triggered a critical closing address from the pope.

But the key - the two key elements that emerged as the most contentious was how the church could be more merciful to those Catholics who divorced - the church doesn't recognize divorce - and then remarried outside the church, without having a church annulment. Cardinal Walter Kasper, a liberal lion with the pope's ear who championed a path to communion for such couples through penance, came to terms on language with Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, an archconservative.

On the issue of gays, the synod document repeats church teaching that gays should be respected and loved and says families with gay members require particular pastoral care. According to the prelate, the synod bishops who participated in the gathering and saw the faces of the crowd "preferred this to the formulas and words". Their bonds, the synod concluded, could nevertheless involve the kind of "lasting" and "reliable" ties that can lead to marriage.

A few bishops said that the doctrine could be modified so that priests or bishops could give individual Catholics permission to receive communion after personal spiritual counselling.

"The real takeaway from this synod is that Pope Francis has changed the way the church goes about reflecting on her pastoral ministry".

"We have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered unusual and nearly scandalous for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for A few is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion", the pontiff said.

Conservatives, on the other hand, painted themselves into a corner at the synod by arguing that the only satisfactory outcome was for the synod to reiterate current church teachings and practices and bar any future flexibility.

Rumours also surfaced the the Holy Father had suffered a small brain tumour, however the Vatican denied this and suggested it was said to discredit the Pope. "And at that point you have alienation and a sense of exclusion", Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge told reporters at a daily press briefing. "This synod has put an end to judging", said the Rev. Lucas Van Looy, the bishop of Tielen, Belgium.