A key document from the bishops' Synod on the Family calling for the Church to make radical changes to its pastoral approach to gays, divorce and remarried and those in civil marriages has been criticised by Cardinal George Pell as “tendentious and incomplete”.
The text – known as the relatio – was released at the synod’s midway point and sought to summarise the discussions at the gathering so far. It has been described as a “pastoral earthquake” and suggests the Church should recognise the good in unions outside marriage.
But Cardinal Pell, one of Pope Francis' close advisers, who has been tasked with reforming Vatican finances, said that the document was an “incomplete resumé” of what the Synod Fathers had said it needed to be “enhanced and corrected”.
He added that after the relatio had been presented three-quarters of the participants in the synod hall who had made interventions had voiced problems with the text.
“The question of Communion for divorced and remarried is only the tip of the iceberg," he told The Tablet. "In seeking to be merciful, some want to open up Catholic teaching on marriage, divorce, civil unions, homosexuality in a radically liberalising direction, whose fruits we see in other Christian traditions,” he said.
He added it was “strange that there was so little in the document on scriptural teaching and magisterial teaching on marriage, sexuality, family.”
The relatio is being discussed and revised by the Synod Fathers and will be presented to the Pope on Saturday.
Cardinal Pell explained: “The task now is to reassure good practising Catholics that doctrinal changes are not possible; to urge people to take a deep breath, pause and to work to prevent deeper divisions and radicalising of factions.”
He pointed out Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce is a fundamental, which needs to be accepted. He added that children “have a right to a mother and a father”.
Above: Cardinal Pell. Photo: CNS