THE Extraordinary Synod on the Family, a two-week meeting of 184
bishops convened by the Pope to consider contemporary pastoral
challenges to marriage and family life, concluded without reaching
the required two-thirds majority to approve statements on the
reception of communion by Roman Catholics married after divorce,
and on the pastoral care of homosexuals.
Figures posted on the Vatican's website reveal that a majority
of the bishops voted in favour of two contentious sections dealing
with communion for the divorced and married again (58 per cent and
62 per cent).
More than 60 per cent of participants voted for a resolution on
the pastoral care of homosexual people, again falling narrowly
short of the majority required.
Disagreements between the bishops were not resolved by changes
in the language of a document summarising the first week of
discussions, to make it sound more conservative.
The section "Welcoming Homosexuals" was given the new heading of
"Pastoral Attention to Persons with Homosexual Orientation", and a
statement acknowledging the "precious support" that people in
homosexual unions may offer to their partners was purged from the
In his closing address to the Synod, the Pope observed that
participants had experienced "moments of desolation, of tensions
and temptations", including a temptation to "hostile inflexibility"
and also to a "destructive tendency to goodness" - which he
described as the temptation of the "so-called progressives and
But he said he would have been "worried and saddened" if such
tensions had not existed and if "all were in a state of agreement,
or silent in a false and quietist peace."
A larger synod on the family will be convened in a year's time
to consider the bishops' conclusions. The work of this synod will
result in an Apostolic Exhortation given by the Pope.
On Sunday, the Pope beatified his predecessor Pope Paul VI. He
described him as the "great helmsman" of the Second Vatican Council
during the 1960s.
Although Pope Paul is remembered by many people for
Humanae Vitae, his 1968 encyclical forbidding married couples from
using artificial contraception, the Pope made no mention of this in
Instead, Pope Francis praised Pope Paul principally for his part
in Vatican II, and described him as a "great pope", a "courageous
Christian", and a "tireless apostle".
"We cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is
heartfelt and important: thanks," Pope Francis told a congregation
of 30,000 people. "Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI.
Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ
and his Church."
Pope Paul, who reigned from 1963 to 1978, will now be known as
"Blessed". One more inexplicable healing, attributed to his
intercession, is needed before he can be given the title
During the mass, Sister Giacomina Pedrini of the Sisters of Holy
Child Mary presented a relic at the altar of a blood-stained vest
worn by Pope Paul during an assassination attempt in the
Philippines in 1970.