VATICAN CITY - As members of the Synod of Bishops concluded work on the second of three chapters in their working document, they continued to call for a tone and for language that is clear, simple and encourages people to see it is possible to live the vocation of marriage and family life.

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The first week of the Synod of Bishops on the family ended with near unanimous calls to be more positive in describing family life today and to show more appreciation for Catholic families living close to the church's ideals. But there were also widespread questions among synod participants about the work they are expected to produce.

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VATICAN CITY - Gathered with a worldwide representation of bishops, including patriarchs and other bishops from the Middle East, Pope Francis dedicated the morning prayer of the Synod of Bishops on the family to pleas for peace in the Middle East.

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OTTAWA - A popular American psychologist and author told an Ottawa audience he hopes bishops attending this month’s Synod on the Family in Rome will address the importance of strong fathers in the family.

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The Synod on the Family is not about communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, or how to reach out to gay Catholics, or even celibacy of priests. It’s about the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis reminded 318 delegates as they began closed door discussions on family issues.

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VATICAN CITY - Showing mercy and accompanying people who are living in situations that go against church teaching entail helping to steer them in the direction that God wants, said two synod participants.

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VATICAN CITY - Ghanaian Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle defended African bishops’ role in the Vatican’s meeting on family issues, stating they were not in Rome to block progress but to present their own views.

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VATICAN CITY - Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said the Synod on the family must recognize global diversity while staying true to Church doctrine.

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VATICAN CITY - Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life.

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The world Synod of Bishops on the family is not a parliament where participants will negotiate or lobby, Pope Francis said, but it must be a place of prayer where bishops speak with courage and open themselves to “God who always surprises us.”

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VATICAN CITY  — In a world filled with challenges to marriage and family life, the Catholic Church is called “to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love,” Pope Francis said at the Mass opening the world Synod of Bishops on the family.

Published in Faith

For the fourth time since 2008, I will spend a good part of the month of October in an “upper room” at the Vatican, seated among the fathers (elders) — and several “mothers” — of the Church listening to people who love the Church and care about her future. Presiding over the important gathering known as a “Synod” is the Bishop of Rome, also known as Vicar of Christ, Successor of St. Peter or simply: “the Pope.”

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis planned two gatherings of the Synod of Bishops to focus on the family and urged participants to use the year between the assemblies as a time for "true spiritual discernment" with both study and prayer.

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PHILADELPHIA - Pope Francis urged the hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families to serve and care for each other as freely as God loves the human family.
Published in Francis in America

PHILADELPHIA - A re-energized Pope Francis delighted tens of thousands of people crowded onto a thoroughfare in the city center on Saturday, delivering a folksy, off-the-cuff riff on family life that came late in the evening, and at the end of a long day of speeches and festivities that by any measure should have left the 78-year-old pontiff drained.

Published in Francis in America