Pope Francis CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuter

Pope says talks not always charitable

By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
  • October 28, 2015

VATICAN CITY - The first task of the Church “is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to proclaim the mercy of God,” Pope Francis said in a blunt address to delegates at the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

At the end of the Synod’s final working session Oct. 24, the Pope was frank about the differences of opinion among Synod participants and about how discussions sometimes exceeded the bounds of charity. But he framed all those differences as an opportunity for learning.

“In the course of this Synod, the different opinions that were expressed freely — and, unfortunately, sometimes with methods that were not completely charitable — certainly led to a rich and lively dialogue,” the Pope said.

The Synod, he said, was a time of trying “to broaden horizons in order to overcome every hermeneutic of conspiracy or closed-mindedness so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God (and) to transmit the beauty of Christian newness, which sometimes is covered by the rust of a language that is archaic or simply incomprehensible.”

“For the Church,” he said, “concluding the Synod means to go back to really ‘walking together’ to bring to every part of the world — every diocese, every community and every situation — the light of the Gospel, the embrace of the Church and the support of the mercy of God.”

The Synod sessions, the Pope said, were designed to have people speak openly about the needs of families and to face them “without fear and without hiding our heads in the sand.”

Without mentioning specific differences, such as deeply varied cultural approaches to homosexuality, Pope Francis said Synod members learned that “what seems normal for a bishop on one continent can seem strange — almost a scandal — to a bishop from another.”

The Synod tried to find better ways to convince the world of the importance of the family based on the lifelong marriage of one man and one woman, he said.

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