Date
17 August 2017
Pope Francis greets cardinals during the opening of a global synod in Rome. He told Catholic leaders to come down from their ivory tower. Photo: Reuters
Pope Francis greets cardinals during the opening of a global synod in Rome. He told Catholic leaders to come down from their ivory tower. Photo: Reuters

Pope to cardinals: Tackle real-life issues

Pope Francis wants cardinals and bishops to tackle real-life issues such as divorce, contraception and same sex unions.

The pope told nearly 200 Catholic leaders to avoid obscure theological debate and intellectual sparring in favour of analysing why so many Catholics defy official teaching on issues such as birth control and premarital sex, according to The Telegraph.

Pope Francis was addressing a global synod in St. Peter’s Basilica to study church doctrine ahead of a bigger conclave next year.

“Synod assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent,” the 77-year-old Pope said, in an apparent rebuke to those bishops, archbishops and cardinals who oppose his reformist agenda.

The Catholic Church is like a vineyard, he said, and the role of its leaders is to nurture it with “freedom, creativity and hard work”.

The Pope has indicated on several occasions that he favours a more “merciful” approach to the issue and has thrown his moral support behind a German cardinal, Walter Kasper, who has argued that the Church should modify its rules, the report said.

Catholics who divorce in a civil court and remarry are currently prohibited from taking communion because in the eyes of the Church their first marriages are still valid and so they are in effect committing adultery with their new partners.

Many Catholics regard that as unnecessarily mean-spirited and exclusive, pointing out that even murderers or criminals who repent are allowed to receive the sacrament.

Change is being pushed by a group of reform-minded cardinals, including Lorenzo Baldisseri, the head of the synod of bishops, Dionigi Tettamanzi, the emeritus archbishop of Milan and Luis Tagle, a cardinal from the Philippines who had been tipped as the first Asian Pope after the resignation of Benedict XVI in February last year.

But they are opposed by powerful conservative currents within the Church, led by cardinals such as Gerhard Mueller, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, George Pell, an Australian who heads a Vatican economic committee and Raymond Leo Burke, an arch-conservative from the United States.

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