VATICAN CITY - A day after signaling a warmer embrace of gays and lesbians and divorced Catholics, conservative cardinals hit back strongly Oct. 14, with one insisting that an abrupt about-face on Church teaching is “not what we are saying at all.”

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OTTAWA - The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has been appointed to the commission preparing the final pastoral message of the Synod on the family.

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VATICAN CITY - In strikingly conciliatory language on situations contrary to Catholic teaching, an official midterm report from the Synod of Bishops on the family emphasized calls for greater acceptance and appreciation of divorced and remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and homosexuals.

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VATICAN CITY - Meeting Catholics from Pope Paul VI's home diocese, Brescia, Pope Francis said his predecessor's witness "nourishes within us the flame of love for Christ, love for the Church and the drive to proclaim the Gospel to the people of today with mercy, patience, courage and joy."

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Senior Catholic leaders meeting at the Vatican are deep into passionate debates about how the Church can respond to the realities of modern family life, yet at the same time they have repeatedly stressed that they are not going to alter long-standing doctrines, such as the teaching on divorce and remarriage.

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VATICAN CITY - Gathered with Pope Francis, members of the Synod of Bishops on the family issued a message of solidarity, support and prayers for all families suffering the impact of war and violence, especially in Iraq and Syria.

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VATICAN CITY - The Church needs to find better ways to show how the Gospel message is a way of life meant to bring great joy to couples and families, and is not a burdensome set of rules aimed at exclusion, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher told the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.

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VATICAN CITY - A married couple from Brazil told Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops that the Church should stop giving "contradictory advice" on birth control and help Catholics obey Church teaching against contraception.

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WASHINGTON - After the U.S. Supreme Court Oct. 6 declined to review rulings overturning five states' bans on same-sex marriage, several U.S. bishops criticized the court's inaction and reiterated that according to Church teaching, traditional marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis may be the universal Church's undisputed master of metaphor and analogy, but other members of the Synod of Bishops on the family are showing a willingness to use snappy images to get their points across, too.

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VATICAN CITY - When Catholics see couples who are patient, kind, never jealous or rude, they "behold the beauty and simplicity and strength of married love," but the Church also must learn to help and to heal those whose dreams for lifelong love have been shattered, said Scottish Archbishop Philip Tartaglia.

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VATICAN - In their discussions of sexual and medical ethics, participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family are giving emphasis to the concept of "graduality," as a way of thinking about morality that allows for human imperfection without compromising ideals.

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VATICAN CITY - A married couple told Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops on the family that Catholic parishes should welcome same-sex couples, following the example of parents who invite their son and his male partner to their home for Christmas.

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VATICAN CITY - The separation of married couples is a huge issue in the Philippines and other parts of Asia, not because of divorce but because poverty pushes couples to separate in search of jobs abroad, said Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis opened the first working session of an extraordinary Synod of Bishops Oct. 6, urging participants to speak fearlessly and listen humbly during two weeks of discussion of the "pastoral challenges of the family."

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