POPE FRANCIS ADDRESSES SYNOD OF CHALDEAN BISHOPS – (Vatican Radio) – Pope Francis Monday addressed the members of the Synod of the Chaldean Church, reminding them that “the only authority is the authority of service, the only power is the power of the Cross”. He spoke about the responsible use of authority in the Church, saying “journeying together is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice”. The Holy Father urged the prelates to “keep always before you the image of the Good Shepherd who is concerned for the salvation of his sheep …  May you imitate him: zealous in seeking the salus animarum of priests as well as laity, realizing full well that the exercise of communion sometimes demands a genuine kenosis, a self-basement and self-spoliation.” Francis lamented the situation caused by hatred sowed through terrorism, saying it has created “a great hemorrhage of faithful who leave the lands of their father.” The Pope affirmed the “complete support and solidarity of the Apostolic See in favour of the common good of the entire Chaldean Church”, as many Christians are displaced by violence. (more details tomorrow)

POPE RECEIVES GYPSY PEOPLE – (VIS, Vatican Radio) – This morning, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the World Pilgrimage of Gypsy People, which gathered together Roma, Sinti and other itinerant peoples, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples in collaboration with the “Migrantes” Foundation of the Italian Episcopal Conference and the “Migrantes” Office of the diocese of Rome and the Sant’Egidio Community. Pope Francis noted there was a strong growth in vocations to the priesthood and ‎religious ‎life from among the gypsy people, holding out an Indian bishop from among them as case in ‎point.  ‎‎“Today we have with us Bishop Devprasad Ganawa, a son of this people,” Pope Francis said, ‎pointing ‎to the first bishop from among the gypsies appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to Jhabua, ‎Madhya ‎Pradesh, in 2009 and then to Udaipur, Rajasthan, in 2012. His remark ‎came during the meeting with some 7000 gypsies from around the world. Monay was the final day of a ‎‎4-day ‎pilgrimage to Rome, to commemorate 50 years of the historic visit of Blessed Pope Paul ‎VI to a ‎gypsy ‎camp in Pomezia, near Rome.

FRANCIS MEETS MILITARY CHAPLAIN TRAINEES – (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday urged the “abolition of war” while meeting participants in a training course for military chaplains jointly organized by the Congregation for Bishops, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The course explored some of the current challenges of international humanitarian law regarding the protection of human dignity during internal armed conflicts and the so-called “new conflicts.” Pope Francis told the participants the issue is “unfortunately, very topical” due to the increased violence and armed conflicts in different parts of the world, such as Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. “In this age, in which we are experiencing a ‘piecemeal third world war ‘, you are called upon to supply the military and their families with the spiritual and ethical dimensions which help them to face the difficulties and often harrowing questions inherent in this peculiar service to their country and to humanity,” he said.

CHURCH LEADERS SIGN APPEAL FOR FRUITFUL COP 21 CONFERENCE – (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Appeal by by Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops from across the globe representing the continental groupings of national episcopal conferences, to the negotiators of the COP 21 in Paris (Conference of Parties), to be held from 30 November to 11 December this year. The initiative was promoted by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, inspired by the Holy Father’s Encyclical “Laudato si’” The appeal is issued by Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops from across the globe representing the continental groupings of national episcopal conferences and it is addressed to those negotiating the COP 21 in Paris, calling on them to work toward the approval of a fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement. “Representing the Catholic Church from the five continents, we Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops have come together to express, on our own behalf and on behalf of the people for whom we care, the widely-held hope that a just and legally binding climate agreement will emerge from the negotiations of the COP 21 in Paris. We advance a ten-point policy proposal, drawing on the concrete experience of people across the continents, and linking climate change to social injustice and the social exclusion of the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens.”


PAPAL TELEGRAM UPON DEATH OF SLOVAK CARDINAL KOREC – (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky of Bratislava, president of the Episcopal Conference of Slovakia, for the death last Saturday of Cardinal Jan Chryzostom Korec, at the age of 91. The Pope remembers with profound emotion the archbishop emeritus of Nitra, a committed and generous pastor who throughout his long episcopal ministry was a “fearless witness of the Gospel and a tireless defender of the Christian faith and the rights of the person”. The cardinal, who was imprisoned for several years and prevented from freely exercising his episcopal mission, “did not let himself be intimidated, always giving a luminous example of strength and trust in divine providence, as well as faithfulness to the See of Peter”, Francis writes. “I thank the Lord for having given His Church this eminent priestly and episcopal figure, and raise fervent prayers to God that He might welcome in His eternal joy, after so much suffering, this good and faithful servant”.


Following is an excellent summary of remarks made by Fr. Lombardi after the release Saturday evening of the final document of the three week-long synod on the family. The document, published at this point only in the original Italian, will eventually be published in other languages after what everyone hopes will be careful and accurate translations. There were huge translation problems at the 2014 synod – at least from Italian into English – where entire meanings of paragraphs were changed.

The 94-paragraph document has been given to Pope Francis and, as I write, only the Holy Father knows what will come of that. Will he produce a magisterial papal document – as hoped for by many Synod Fathers and other participants? Will it be given to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to file away with other documents – or will it produce a new one?

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the document is how it was reported on by the media. Headlines ranged from observations and victory language on the far right to observations and language of victories won on the far left. And just about everything in between.

For now, here is Father Lombardi’s summary. When we have the entire English translation (and I’ve checked it out against the Italian), I’ll bring you that. I will try in coming days to synthesize the Pope’s speech to the synod at its closing.

(VIS) – The Synod Fathers approved by 177 votes out of 265, a two-thirds majority, the final Relatio of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod on the Family, made up of 94 paragraphs, each one of which was voted on individually. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave a briefing on the document, which was authorised for publication in Italian by Pope Francis. (photo ANSA for


Fr. Lombardi remarked that the text takes into account the many difficulties faced by the family, but also its great capacity for facing and reacting to them. The conclusive document of the Synod includes many of the amendments to the Instrumentum Laboris presented by the Synod Fathers and therefore reflects the voice of the Assembly.

With reference to the two paragraphs dedicated to complex family situations, which were approved by a very slender majority of 178 and 180 votes, Fr. Lombardi noted that they regard the pastoral approach to wounded families or those that are irregular from a canonical point of view and in terms of the discipline of the Church: in particular, cohabitation, civil marriage, divorced and remarried persons and the way of pastorally addressing these situations.

Fr. Lombardi underlined that the tone of the document is positive and welcoming, and that it has greatly enriched the Instrumentum Laboris. Similarly, the Pope’s Motu Proprio on the reform of marriage annulment procedures made an effective and decisive contribution to the theme of the Synod.

The final Relatio reaffirms the doctrine of the indissolubility of sacramental marriage, which is not a yoke but rather a gift from God, a truth based in Christ and in His relationship with the Church. At the same time, it underlines that truth and mercy converge in Christ, which leads to welcome to wounded families. Without expressly mentioning access to the Eucharist for remarried divorcees, the Synod document recalls that they are not excommunicated and refers the analysis of complex family situations to the discernment of pastors. This discernment, the text underlines, must be applied in accordance with the teaching of the Church, with trust in God’s mercy that is denied to no-one. With regard to cohabiting couples, the text reiterates that this situation should be faced constructively, seeking to transform it into an opportunity for a path to conversion towards the fullness of marriage and family, in the light of the Gospel.

Other salient points of the document refer to homosexuality. There must be no discrimination against people with homosexual tendencies, but at the same time the text states that the Church is contrary to same-sex unions and external pressure on the Church in relation to this matter is not accepted. There are special paragraphs dedicated to immigrants, refugees and persecuted families who are often divided and whose members can become victims of trafficking. A welcoming approach was invoked for them too, recalling their rights and also their duties in their host countries.

There are specific paragraphs on women, men and children, the mainstays of family life: the text emphasises the need for the protection and the recognition of the value of their respective roles. It is hoped that a more prominent role will be identified for women in the formation of ordained ministers, while in relation to children mention was made of the beauty of adoption and fostering, practices which reconstruct ruptured family bonds. The Synod does not forget widows and widowers, the disabled, the elderly and grandparents, who enable the transmission of faith in the family and must be protected from the throwaway culture. Unmarried people must also be acknowledged for their commitment to the Church and society.

Among the “shadows” that are frequently cast on the family, the Synod notes the presence of political and religious fanaticism hostile to Christianity, growing individualism, gender ideology, conflicts, persecution, poverty, precarious employment, corruption, economic difficulties that can exclude families from education and culture, the globalisation of indifference in which humanity’s place at the centre of society is usurped by money, pornography, and the declining birth rate.

The Relation therefore gathers together suggestions for strengthening preparation for marriage, especially for the young who appear intimidated by it. They are in need, says the Synod, of an adequate emotional formation, following the virtues of chastity and self-giving. In this regard, mention was made of the bond between the sexual act and procreation between spouses, of which children are the most precious fruit, since they bear the memory and hope of an act of love. Another bond is that between the vocation of the family and the vocation to consecrated life. Education in sexuality and corporeality and the promotion of responsible parenting would also be central, in accordance with the teachings of Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae” and the primary role of parents in the education of their children in faith.

An appeal is launched to institutions to promote an support policies in favour of the family, and Catholics engaged in politics are exhorted to protect the family and life, as a society that neglects them loses its openness to the future. In this respect, the Synod reaffirms the sacredness of life from conception to natural death, and warns against the grave threats posed to the family by abortion and euthanasia. Further paragraphs are dedicated to mixed marriages, whose positive aspects in relation to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue are underlined, while confirming the need to protect religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection in society.

The text includes extensive reflection on the need to modify the language of the Church, making it more meaningful so that the proclamation of the Gospel of the family may truly respond to the deepest human aspirations. This means not only presenting a series of regulations but rather announcing the grace that gives the capacity to live well the good of the family.

Finally, the Relatio emphasises the beauty of the family: as a domestic church based on marriage between a man and a woman, the fundamental cell of the society whose growth it contributes, a safe entry to the deepest sentiments, the sole point of connection in a fragmented age, and an integral part of human ecology, it must be protected, supported and encouraged, also by the authorities.

The document concludes by a plea to the Synod Fathers by the Pope, regarding the possibility of producing a document on the family. As Fr. Lombardi explains, “The Synod Fathers do not say that all is complete, but affirm that they offer the Relatio to the Holy Father to enable him to evaluate whether to continue on this route with a document, on the basis of the Synod text, to further examine the theme of the family from the perspective he wishes to offer. ‘We continue on our path’”.