Synod day 5 presser. (UPDATED)

At today's Holy See press conference: Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio--the Vatican's top canon lawyer--discussed the possibility of learning from the Orthodox practice of accepting second (nonsacramental) marriages, how the church should approach gay couples, and the need to find concrete responses to the situations of irregularly married Catholics.

And Archbishop Paul-André Durocher--president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops--pushed back on those who say it's not merciful to bar the divorced and remarried from Communion, while explaining that the bishops at the synod are moving from deductive to inductive theology--taking lessons from the experience of their people. There will not be an absolute rule for every situation, he reportedly said. Jesus, after all, met people as individuals.

Update: As John Allen reports, during press conference, Cardinal Coccopalmerio backed the Kasper proposal, in certain cases.

Coccopalmerio offered a specific example of a woman who married a man who had been abandoned by his first wife, through no fault of his own, and left to care for three children. The woman who married him, and who is now helping to care for his children, is considered to be in an “irregular” situation.

“She cannot abandon that union or those children,” he said. “In these cases, we have to do something.”

Those cases, he suggested, could be reviewed by a bishop or a group of bishops.

Allen also reports that Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, retired archbishop of Milan--and one-time papabile--voiced support for this view in an interview with Corriere della Sera.

In his interview today, Tettamanzi said he’d be open to Communion for the divorced and remarried under three conditions:

* The sacraments are seen as “signs of the mercy of God”
* Confusion is avoided about the indissolubility of marriage
* The people are involved in Christian formation for adults

Also: Don't miss this summary of Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's synod speech, recently posted on the website of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference.

Archbishop Martin said the Church must also listen to where God is speaking to the Church through the witness of those Christian married couples who struggle and fail and begin again in the concrete situations of the harshness of life today and fail again. “The experience of failure and struggle cannot surely be irrelevant in arriving at the way we proclaim the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family.”


Consulting married couples is not simply an option which we take up on special occasions. The authentic living out of the married vocation, sanctified by a sacrament, can become in a unique way a true theological source. Familiaris Consortio spoke of the law of graduality rather a graduality of the law. There is still difficulty in accepting the significance of human endeavour which fails to reach the high ideals but is part of the struggle for perfection. "None of us would be capable of living the teaching of our calling in the Church without the help of the mercy of God."

Update 2: More from John Thavis.

A more severe argument was reportedly made by U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who heads the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican’s highest tribunal. Burke has been a strong critic of proposals to find a less rigorous way to readmit divorced and remarried to the sacraments.

According to the Italian magazine Il Regno, Burke gave a talk at last night’s session that offered three “no’s”: no to any doctrinal change; no to any change in church law; and no to any change in pastoral practice. The magazine said his brief talk was met in the synod hall with icy silence. Apparently the bishops recognized that these three “no’s” were, in essence, a “no” to Pope Francis and his calls for pastoral mercy.

He'll be there all synod.

Read the presser in tweets, after the jump.


Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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