Sixteen Synod Fathers either voted against the message of the Synod of the Family that was published on Saturday or abstained.
The three-page document was made available to journalists at a Vatican press conference earlier on Saturday. The message, according to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who led the commission that produced it, is directed mainly at Christian families and is a reflection on marriage and the family.
The most likely elements to have aroused the opposition of a few of the 191 Synod Fathers is a reference to "the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love". The message refers to "failures" that "give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations that are complex and problematic, where the Christian choice is not obvious."
The message also refers to the fact that in the first stage of the Synod, participants "reflected on how to accompany those who have been divorced and remarried and on their participation in the sacraments".
Cardinals such as the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Raymond Burke, and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Müller, have said they oppose any revision of the Church's teaching with regard to the ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion.
Asked to explain why some Synod Fathers failed to support the message, Cardinal Ravasi said it could be because they disagreed with as little as a single phrase.
The message is mainly a celebration of the joys of Christian marriage and the family but also a reflection on the many sorrows and hardships they face.
It lists among the problems facing families the "idolatory" of money, unemployment, and young people who fall prey to drugs and crime. The document also recalls the crises facing migrants and also refugees from war; human trafficking; child abuse; and the exploitation of women.
The synod is now considering its all-important final document which will prepare the ground for next October's much bigger gathering. A series of votes is taking place, with journalists being advised of a second Vatican press conference at 7pm tonight which is likely to relate the outcome.
The cardinals at this morning's press conference said they were hopeful of a high degree of consensus among the Synod Fathers on the final document. They also believed that Pope Francis would want it to be published quickly.