Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At today’s daily press briefing for the Synod on the Family, the issue of the divorced who remarry was discussed. José Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, said that participants looked at the “case by case solution and the penitential journey, which must however be genuine”. Ultimately, “the final word belongs to the pope. We simply express our concerns, but it is he who will draw conclusions.”
During the briefing, it was reported that some Synod Fathers proposed to set up a committee of experts to examine the issue. The latter could be created after the Synod to study in depth the problem.
Cardinal Robles Ortega described the atmosphere in the Synod as one of "respect and full freedom,” as the pope wanted. With the respect to accepting homosexuals, he noted agreement on the notion “that marriage is between a man and a woman, that it was indissoluble, and that it cannot be equated to other forms of union.” Nevertheless, participants said that “gay people must be accompanied”.
Holy See Press Office director Father Federico Lombardi also spoke about the atmosphere in the Synod. He said that some Synod Fathers mentioned the incident involving Saint Peter and Cornelius the centurion in which the later comes to “realise that the Holy Spirit leads one to follow paths that we did not hitherto understand.”
Today’s session saw the participation of 12 fraternal delegates. Estonian Orthodox Church primate Stephanos attended the meeting as the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
"It seems that today,” Stephanos said, “marriage and having children has changed in meaning. In many countries, lawmakers are gradually introducing new rules on the matter. These changes in the family directly confront, and rightly make us apprehensive about changes to the family structure, done in the name of equality and against discriminations.”
Although “One might respond to this by saying that the law conforms to a new social reality, for the Church the Sacrament of marriage does not come from it as a mere institution, but comes first and foremost as a myster of life."
Orthodox Coptic Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta spoke about the issue of homosexuality, arguing that "the first mission of the Church towards people with homosexual tendencies is to explain in a tolerant and convincing manner that homosexuality is a great sin forbidden by God according to the Holy Scriptures. Consequently, the main pastoral mission of the Church is to encourage these people to repent, and guide them to lead a life without sin."
Lebanese Syrian Orthodox Archbishop March Youstinos Boulos warned against the dangers that migrant families from Syria and Iraq face. "This has led to new challenges for Christian families, who emigrated to neighbouring countries and Europe.” This “danger affects the cultural, social and religious identity of migrant families.”
“Internal migration, or to neighbouring countries, has undermined the economic and social stability of families, confronted by poverty and too many demands. Thus in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, Churches have had to face such a situation, compounded by the fact that the United Nations has dropped Christians from their aid programme because they do not live in tents."
Bishop Timothy Thornton, from the Anglican Communion, praised Evangelii Gaudium (En. The Joy of the Gospel). “We all need to put people first. I am sorry to say that my Church’s biggest problem is that we, as Christians, appear irrelevant to many people. We seem boring, boring and devoid of any sense of joy and hope.”
American Rev Robert K. Welsh, president of the Council on Christian Unity and member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) took a positive view on mixed marriages.
Speaking about his own experience, his wife, daughters and grandchildren are Catholic, he said that mixed marriages are usually examined only in terms of the problems they may create “in relation, for example, to children’s pastoral and the religious education, and to liturgical life.”
Yet, “My hope is that this Synod will also come to view mixed marriages in a more positive and hopeful context, as a 'great opportunity' to bear witness to the gift of unity in the love of Christ and of God for all the people of God, in particular for marriages between the baptised."
For his part, Tim Macquiban, from the World Methodist Council, warned that single people, childless couples, and unmarried partners “can easily feel excluded”.