Synod bishops discuss nixing harsh language
Say Catholics should be encouraged to 'take one step at a time' toward God
· Joshua J. McElwee for National Catholic Reporter
· Vatican City
· October 8, 2014
|Pope Francis (center) chairs an extraordinary synod of nearly 200 senior clerics at the Vatican on Monday (AFP Photo/Osservatore Romano)|
The first days of discussions at the global meeting of Catholic bishops have focused partly on how to change "harsh language" used by the church in discussing family life and on acknowledging that people grow in faith slowly, according to Vatican observers of the meeting.
One theme said to be included in 70 speeches made by prelates over the past two days is how the prelates label people with words that "are not necessarily words that invite people to draw closer to the church”.
Briefing reporters Tuesday on the event, known as a Synod of Bishops, Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica said one or more synod members specifically referred to three terms commonly used by the church:
- "Living in sin": a reference to couples who live together before marriage;
- "Intrinsically disordered": a reference to gay people; and
- "Contraceptive mentality": a reference made by some prelates to refer to a society that does not respect life.
"To label people ... does not help in bringing people to Christ," said Rosica, summarizing the synod member. "There was a great desire that our language has to change in order to meet the very difficult situations."
Rosica spoke Tuesday during a Vatican briefing summarizing the latest talks at the synod, which will continue through 19 October.
Unlike previous synods, the Vatican is not releasing texts or summaries of the some 190 prelates' talks but is instead providing daily briefings with three spokesmen who are attending the synod and summarizing events.
English Cardinal Vincent said one recurring theme so far is the theological notion of "graduality," meaning that Catholics may sometimes grow toward adherence or understanding of church teaching throughout their lives.
"It's a law of pastoral moral theology which permits and encourages people, all of us, to take one step at a time in our search for holiness in our lives," Nichols said.