How can the Church remain true to its core beliefs while showing mercy, compassion and forgiveness to individuals who fail, in so many ways, to live up its high ideals? That’s the question at the heart of the Synod of Bishops on the Family which is moving towards the conclusion of its first week’s work. To explore these issues at the daily press briefing on Thursday, the head of the Vatican press office Fr Federico Lombardi and his assistants were joined by the head of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher and Italian Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, as Philippa Hitchen reports....
‘Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on the Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?’ Those words of Jesus to the Pharisees were used by Cardinal Coccopalmerio on Thursday to throw light on the dilemma facing Synod Fathers as they struggle to distinguish between Church doctrine and its practical application to people in their care.
As a canon law professor and current president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Cardinal has spent most of his life studying the way the laws of the Church impact ordinary peoples’ lives. He’s also a member of the new Commission, established by Pope Francis in September, to reform the marriage annulment process – one of the issues that has been under the spotlight in the Synod Hall…..
Like many other Church leaders, the cardinal is strongly in favour of simplifying the annulment process which is often a costly, complicated and drawn out affair. All the bishops at the Synod, are clear there will be no change to the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of a Catholic marriage, but is much heated discussion on how to respond to men and women who are separated, divorced and remarried and are asking to be readmitted to the Eucharist.
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