Date :Monday, October 6th, 2014 | Time : 17:44 |ID: 17299 | Print

Pope to clergy: lighten up a bit

SHAFAQNA –  As nearly 200 bishops and cardinals gathered in Rome yesterday for a synod to debate why churchgoers are ignoring Church dictats on sex and marriage, Pope Francis issued a warning to his clergy not to stick too hard to rigid rules. “Synod gatherings are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent,” Pope Francis said. Rather, he added, it is an opportunity to “work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.”

Speaking at a mass held to launch the special, two week synod, which will focus on family themes, Francis told bishops that “evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they do not lift a finger to move.”

The pontiff’s comments, made before debates get underway today (Mon), were just the latest sign that he wants to the Catholic Church to respond to a survey of believers he ordered last year, which showed rank and file Catholics ignore rules on birth control and want the Church to minister to gay couples in civil unions.

In an address to tens of thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square on Saturday evening, Francis urged synod participants to listen to “the call of the people,” to “lend an ear to the rhythm of our time” and to smell the “odour” of modern life.

A key question the synod is expected to focus on is the Church’s ban on giving communion to divorced Catholics who have remarried. The Vatican does not recognise civil divorce and considers divorcees who remarry to be living in sin.

Moves to drop the ban have sparked a backlash from conservatives, who say it would overturn Jesus’s teaching on the permanence of marriage.

Although the Synod is not expected to change the rules on divorce, its conclusions will feed into a subsequent synod to be held next year, which may act.

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