Vatican begins extraordinary Synod to discuss family lifetext_fields
Vatican city: Roman Catholic Church leaders from around the world began a two -week extraordinary Synod to discuss some of the most controversial issues affecting the Church. Pope Francis and more than 200 senior bishops in the Church will be joined by lay Catholics to debate abortion, contraception, homosexuality and divorce. The extraordinary Synod lasts two weeks and a follow-up meeting will be held next year.
The conference agenda was drawn up after an unprecedented opinion survey of the faithful, ordered by Pope Francis last year, to find out why Rome's teachings are increasingly being rejected or ignored.
Addressing tens of thousands of believers in St Peter’s square on the eve of the synod overnight, Francis said the synod could open the door to a “renewal of the Church and society.” Pope Francis said that he wanted bishops to really listen to the Catholic community. He said he hoped they would have a "sincere, open and fraternal" discussion that would respond to the "epochal changes" that families were living through.
Since becoming pontiff just over 18 months ago, Francis has repeatedly highlighted the “wounds” caused by family breakdown in modern society, while suggesting the Church needs to adapt to this new reality.
“The wounds have to be treated with mercy. The Church is a mother, not a customs office, coldly checking who is within the rules,” he has said, in an allusion to the many divorced people, cohabiting couples and single mothers within the ranks of the Church.
But a reform agenda on social issues could prove much harder to implement because of deep divisions within the Church, Vatican experts say. Conservatives in the Church hierarchy have already made it clear they will fight any dilution of traditional doctrine.