Pope on Divorce, Gays: 'Today Is a Time of Mercy!'

Closes out bishops' synod with some gains on divorce, homosexuality
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2015 12:00 PM CDT
Pope on Divorce, Gays: 'Today Is a Time of Mercy!'
Pope Francis holds the Gospel Book as he celebrates Mass to mark the end of the Synod of bishops, in St. Peter's Basilica, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis closed out a three-week bishops' synod on Sunday with something of a victory lap, appearing to chastise conservative Catholic leaders for excluding swaths of the faithful, including divorced and gay Catholics. "A faith that does not know how to grow roots into the lives of people stays barren. And instead of an oasis, it creates more deserts," he said, at times appearing "to lecture," as the Washington Post puts it. "Today is a time of mercy," he said, per the AP. Francis made significant headway in his quest for a more inclusive, forgiving church, reports the New York Times, with the synod opening "church doors ... just a crack" by way of clearing the way to offer communion to those who have divorced or are unmarried but living together.

But the synod, though the Times notes it emphasized that gays should be respected, swung those church doors soundly shut on gay marriage, reports the Los Angeles Times, declaring it to have "no foundation whatsoever." Consensus seems to be that while the church tacked to the left, it did so tacitly in deference to conservatives. But the pope is where the rubber meets the road, notes the New York Times: The synod asked him to release his own paper on the family, which he's expected to do and which could even be presented as an encyclical. That process, however, could take up to a year. (More Pope Francis stories.)

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