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Church Issues Revised Synod Document

synod of bishopsThe Vatican has issued an updated version of the English translation of the mid-term report known as the relatio with more careful language that is being described by the secular media as "significantly colder."

The Boston Pilot is reporting that the new English translation has been reworded more carefully, such as in its controversial references to homosexuality which changed from "welcoming homosexuals" to "providing for homosexuals" in the new version.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn explained these changes to reporters in a press conference yesterday, stressing that the Catholic Church must hold together truth and mercy, even if it is criticized for doing so.

In order to better understand the work the Synod Fathers are trying to do, he said people must understand what Pope Francis means when he talks of "accompanying" the sinner.

"Many times he has said, 'Don't judge; accompany.' Is that relativism? No, certainly not," the Cardinal explained.

The faithful should not be concerned about differences of opinion coming out of the  Synod because the gathering is merely mirroring the differences that exist in a typical family.

"It often happens in a family that the mother says, 'It's too dangerous,' and the dad says, 'No, don't be afraid.' We're in a big family and some say, 'Attention!' and they are right, it's dangerous. But others say, 'Don't be afraid'," the Cardinal advised.

Different emphases are normal, he said, because "there are different aspects to consider: There is doctrine and the clear word of the Gospel and there is the evident action of Jesus showing an attitude full of mercy and compassion. How to unite the two is a perennial challenge for the church, its pastors and all of us."

When people fall short of the Gospel ideal, the Church must "speak the truth," but "it does so with compassion and with an invitation to undertake a journey of faith."

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn Cardinal Christoph Schonborn

The Vatican also issued a statement yesterday confirming that the ten Small Groups meeting at the Synod had presented an evaluation of the troublesome Relatio post discreptationem (RPD), as well as proposals to incorporate in the Relatio Synodi (RS), the definitive and conclusive document of the Assembly.

"Firstly, some perplexity was voiced regarding to the publication, although legitimate, of the RPD since, it was said, this is a working document that does not express a univocal opinion shared by all the Synod Fathers," the statement read. "Therefore, after expressing their appreciation of the work involved in drawing up the text and regarding its structure, the Small Groups presented their suggestions."

Some of the suggestions included incorporating more reference to the sacramental aspect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to which so many couples adhere, rather than to focus so heavily on irregular marriage situations. The Fathers said it was essential to underline more clearly the doctrine on marriage, emphasizing that it is a gift from God.

The Fathers also want to see the final document address issues pertaining to adoption, biotechnology and the importance of governmental policies that support the family. Also to be focused upon are families who live in extreme poverty, problems associated with prostitution, female genital mutilation, and the exploitation of minors for sexual or labor purposes.

"Overall, the aim is to offer a balanced and global idea of the 'family' in a Christian sense," the statement read.

As far as the irregular situations highlighted in the original RPD, the Small Groups think the Church must be a welcoming home for all, in order that no-one feel refused.

"However, greater clarity was advocated, to avoid confusion, hesitation and euphemisms in language, regarding for example the law of gradualness, so that it does not become gradualness of the law."

With regard to possibility of divorced and remarried persons partaking in the sacrament of the Eucharist, two main perspectives emerged: on the one hand, it was suggested that the doctrine not be modified and to remain as it is at present; on the other, to open up the possibility of communication, with an approach based on compassion and mercy, but only under certain conditions.

"Furthermore, it was emphasized that, despite the impossibility of equating marriage between a man and a woman with homosexual unions, persons of this orientation must receive pastoral accompaniment and their dignity must be protected, without however implying that this may indicate a form of approval, on the part of the Church, of their orientation and way of life."

As might be expected, the global press reacted harshly to the new tone in the document with the Associated Press calling it "significantly colder." They framed the revision as a "conservative vs. liberal" war within the Synod and even suggested that the new version only applied to English-speaking people - as if the Church's teachings are based on ethnicity rather than on the Truth.

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