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 - The first two married couples beatified as couples and St. Therese of Lisieux were being honored during the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.

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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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VATICAN CITY - The Greek root of the word "synod" means "to walk together," which is exactly what bishops and other members of the Synod of Bishops are called to do as they seek to apply the Gospel and church teaching to the challenges facing family life today, said the gathering's general secretary.

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VATICAN CITY - Opening a two-week Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis warned participants against the temptations of hypocrisy, pride and greed, urging them instead to serve the church with "freedom, creativity and hard work."

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VATICAN CITY - Hours before opening a Synod of Bishops whose members have already started a public debate over Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality, Pope Francis prayed the bishops would express themselves and listen to each other openly, trusting in God to reconcile their differences.

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VATICAN CITY - The author of a controversial proposal to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion says he believes Pope Francis backs the measure but would not apply it without support from bishops at two upcoming synods on the family.

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VATICAN CITY - The "freedom of expression" that characterized preparations for the Synod of Bishops on the family -- especially in responses to a Vatican questionnaire -- "will also characterize the synod assembly, which certainly will take place in a climate of respect for every position, mutual charity and an authentic sense of constructiveness," said the head of the synod.

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