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Synod report urges 'accompaniment'
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placeholder November 9, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 19   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Pope Francis waves as he leaves a session of the Synod of Bishops.
Paul Haring/cns

Synod report urges 'accompaniment' tailored
to family situations

VATICAN CITY — While not specifically mentioning the controversial proposal of a path toward full reconciliation and Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, members of the Synod of Bishops on the family handed Pope Francis a report emphasizing an obligation to recognize that not all Catholics in such a situation bear the same amount of blame.

The 94-paragraph report approved Oct. 24, the last working day of the three-week synod, highlighted the role of pastors in helping couples understand church teaching, grow in faith and take responsibility for sharing the Gospel. It also emphasized how "pastoral accompaniment" involves discerning, on a case-by-case basis, the moral culpability of people not fully living up to the Catholic ideal.

Bishops and other full members of the synod voted separately on each paragraph and the Vatican published those votes. The paragraph dealing specifically with leading divorced and remarried Catholics on a path of discernment passed with only one vote beyond the necessary two-thirds.

Pope Francis said at the beginning of the synod, church doctrine on the meaning of marriage as a lifelong bond between one man and one woman open to having children was not up for debate. The final report strongly affirmed that teaching as God's plan for humanity, as a blessing for the church and a benefit to society.

While insisting on God's love for homosexual persons and the obligation to respect their dignity, the report also insisted same-sex unions could not be recognized as marriages and denounced as "totally unacceptable" governments or international organizations making recognition of "'marriage' between persons of the same sex" a condition for financial assistance.

The report also spoke specifically of: the changing role of women in families, the church and society; single people and their contributions to the family and the church; the heroic witness of parents who love and care for children with disabilities; the family as a sanctuary protecting the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death; and the particular strain on family life caused by poverty and by migration.

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