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Cardinals open consistory, focused on family

February 20, 2014

Family life was the focus of discussion as Pope Francis met on February 20 with the College of Cardinals, in a special consistory.

Opening the two-day meeting, the Pope remarked that the family is both “the fundamental cell of human society” and “the reflection of the Triune God.” He encouraged the cardinals to discuss pastoral care for the family in depth, recognizing the urgency of the need. “The family nowadays is regarded with disdained and maltreated,” he said; “and what we ask for is recognition of how beautiful, true, and good it is to form a family.”

Pope Francis was greeted at the consistory by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the 86-year-old dean of the College of Cardinals. Noting that this was the Pontiff’s first meeting with the full College, the cardinal assured the Pope of their support. He mentioned, too, the “spiritual closeness” of the few prelates who were unable to attend the meeting in Rome this week.

Most of the Thursday-morning session was taken up with a lengthy address by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the former president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. At a briefing for journalists, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that Cardinal Kasper’s remarks were intended for the cardinals, and would not be made public. However, the Vatican spokesman did provide a brief summary of the cardinal’s talk.

Cardinal Kasper’s thoughts were very much “in harmony” with those of Pope Francis, Father Lombardi said. The German cardinal emphasized the role of the family as a domestic church, and as an instrument for evangelization. The cardinal spoke about the understanding of marriage and family in Christian theology: established at creation, damaged by sin, but raised to the level of a sacrament and redeemed by grace.

Father Lombardi confirmed Cardinal Kasper did approach the subject that has commanded much media attention: the status of Catholics who are divorced and remarried. Without providing details of the cardinal’s thoughts, the Vatican spokesman said that Cardinal Kasper had invoked the thoughts of Pope Benedict XVI, who had urged greater pastoral care for Catholics in these situations, and to the words of Pope Francis, who has said that the question of pastoral care should not be seen as in opposition to the canonical question of the validity of a marriage.

Cardinal Kasper closed his address, Father Lombardi said, by speaking of the “law of gradualness,” exploring how married couples can come eventually to a deeper understanding of their sacramental bond and a better appreciation for their family life.


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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Feb. 21, 2014 9:27 AM ET USA

    And the 21st, the pope and the cardinals issued a proclamation condemning religiously inspired violence. Sadly, we find the following paragraph there: "Unfortunately, it is evident that many of the current conflicts are described as being of a religious nature, not infrequently surreptitiously placing Christians and Muslims in opposition, whereas in reality these conflicts have origins of a mainly ethnic, political or economic nature." This is an appalling misunderstanding of what is going on.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Feb. 20, 2014 7:28 PM ET USA

    Let us pray for these men as they pray together and deliberate, and on this most crucial of topics set the Church's course for the next decades. (Without saying evil is good and good is evil, as the culture does.)