- Battle lines drawn
This week produced the clearest evidence yet that the Synod Fathers are sharply divided between those who are supporting Pope Francis in his efforts to present a more pastoral vision of the Church and those determined first and foremost to emphasise its moral teaching
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- Burke confirms rumours he is to leave Vatican's top court for Order of Malta
- Nichols says synod is developing pastoral language and opening pathways for divorced and remarried
- Catholic head teachers call for more support as recruitment dries up
- Church backs ecumenical campaign for organ donation as ethical concerns are addressed
- Curious muddle of Lectionary translations Philip Endean SJ
- Synod final document is a setback for Francis' reforms – for now Elena Curti in Rome
- Annulments can be far from merciful Bill Wright
At the close of their annual plenary meeting, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement reiterating their opposition to the controversial contraception mandate that is part of the Obama administration’s health care overhaul. However, for the first time, the bishops also began to qualify their opposition.
In every previous statement on the mandate, the USCCB has said the mandate would cause Catholic ministries to “fund and/or facilitate” the objectionable contraceptive coverage. That language was dropped from the statement issued last week. According to one source, during the closed door executive session, the bishops wrestled with the issue of whether or not compliance with the mandate constituted illicit material cooperation with evil and decided not to include the “fund and/or facilitate” language which suggested compliance would be morally illicit.
Moreover, after two years during which opposition to the mandate, and the broader issue of religious liberty, tended to drown out all other issues, the new statement painted the USCCB’s religious liberty concerns as one among many issues facing the Church, alongside matters of worship and teaching, service to the poor, and comprehensive immigration reform.