THE Vatican has published a working document to address a crisis
of widespread rejection of Roman Catholic teaching on sexual
morality and family life.
Rising rates of cohabitation among young RCs, divorce and
remarriage among older RCs, and a widespread rejection of
traditional Vatican teaching on pre-marital sex and contraceptives
led Pope Francis last year to call the third Extraordinary General
Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
His 75-page document Instrumentum Laboris was presented
last week at a press conference in Rome. It will assist the bishops
who are to attend the Synod in October, which will focus on
"pastoral challenges to the family in the context of
evangelisation", and the "widespread cultural, social, and
spiritual crisis of the family".
Divided into three parts, the document deals first with the
understanding of marriage in the context of the gospel and the
The secretary-general of the Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri,
told the press conference that "the second part relates to the
pastoral challenges inherent in the family, such as the crisis of
faith, critical internal situations, external pressures, and other
He promised that, in this context, special consideration would
be given to "difficult pastoral situations, such as unmarried
couples who live together, and de facto unions, separated and
divorced couples, remarried divorcees and eventual further
children, single mothers, those who are in canonically irregular
situations, and non-believers or non-practising Catholics who wish
The RC Church had a duty to accompany cohabiting couples "in the
trust that they are able to beara responsibility, such as that of
marriage, that is not too great for them", the Cardinal said.
He hoped that the document would "offer real knowledge" of the
irregular situation of divorcees who had married again, and the RC
Church would find solutions "compatible with her teaching, andwhich
lead to a serene and reconciled life".
He said that there was also a duty of pastoral care of sexually
active homosexuals, "including matters relating to children who may
The document states that almost all bishops said that they would
accede to requests to baptise children living with gay couples
"with the same care, tenderness, and concern which is given to
The third part of the document relates to education and
catechesis on matters tangentially linked to marriage and family
Such problems involve the education in the faith of children
born into irregular situations, saying that they should always be
welcome in RC schools; and alsothe practical difficulties
involvedin effectively transmitting and convincingly explaining RC
church teachings to unreceptive adults.
Much of the content of the document is based on responses
received to a questionnaire sent around the world in November.
Although the document recognises that many RCs do not follow
church teaching on contraception, saying that "for many Catholics,
the concept of 'responsible parenthood' encompasses the shared
responsibility in conscience to choose the most appropriate method
of birth control", it is unlikely that the bishops will contradict
the papal teaching of the past 40 years. Instead, the document
praises natural family planning for equipping couples to decide
family size while respecting human fertility, and "the dignity of
the sexual relationship between husband and wife".
The document was more critical of "gender theory", by which
people decided their gender without "any correspondence to a
person's biological sexuality". It said that this underlined the
need for an improved understanding of "Christian anthropology".
It noted that the bishops wished to strike a balance between
traditional RC teaching on marriage and family life and a
non-judgemental attitude towards people living in homosexual
Pope Francis is top of the 'tweeps'
POPE FRANCIS is the most influential Twitter user - or
"tweep" - in the world, a new study has revealed, writes Simon
Although the Pope is the second most followed world
leader after President Obama, he massively outstrips the President
in the frequency with which his followers retweet his messages.
This makes him the most influential "tweep" on the planet, reports
Twiplomacy 2014, a study of how Twitter is being used by world
More than 14 million people follow the Pope at @Pontifex
in nine languages, and each tweet made by him is on average
retweeted nearly 17,000 times, Twiplomacy said in a final
Although President Obama has 43.7 million followers for
his@BarackObama account, his tweets are retweeted an average of
only 1400 times, meaning that the Pope's tweets are retweeted more
than ten times as often.
Of the two, the Pope enjoys greater global reach,
because of the support of his followers for his tweets, which most
commonly include the words "God", "Jesus", and "love".
"By this standard, Pope Francis @Pontifex is by far the
most influential tweep, with more than 10,000 retweets for every
tweet he sends on his Spanish account, and 6462 retweets on average
on his English account," the report said.
"Venezuela's President @NicolasMadurois is in second
position, receiving on average 2065 retweets per tweet on his
President Obama's Twitter high-point, the report said,
came the day after his re-election in 2009, when he tweeted a
picture of himself with the slogan "four more years". It became one
of the four most popular tweets ever, retweeted 806,066
"However, since then, the engagement on the account has
been in decline," the report said. "Despite the account's massive
following,the @BarackObama tweets are on average retweeted only
After President Obama and Pope Francis, the third most
followed world leader is the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, who has five millionfollowers. David Cameron
(@Number10gov) is in 13th place, with 2.6 million followers; and
the Queen(@BritishMonarchy) is 36th, with 671,000
The Pope's Twitter account was opened by his
predecessor, Benedict XVI.