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Vatican says papal post-Synod document is primarily pastoral

April 07, 2016

As the Catholic world anxiously awaits the release of a papal document concluding the work of the Synod on the Family, a Vatican "reader's guide" emphasizes that it will be "first and foremost a pastoral document."

The guide, prepared by the office of the Synod of Bishops and sent to prelates around the world, did not disclose the specific contents of the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, which will be released on April 8. But the document laid heavy stress on the importance of "dialogue" about the role of the family. "The Pope's vision of society is inclusive," the guide says. "Such inclusion involves the effort to accept diversity, to dialogue with those who think differently, to encourage the participation of those with different abilities."

The reader's guide does not directly address the question that has prompted the greatest amount of speculation about the papal document: whether Pope Francis will open a path for divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Communion. But the document may offer a hint, in saying that "the challenge is not to change doctrine but to inculcate the general principles..."


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  • Posted by: space15796 - Apr. 08, 2016 11:42 AM ET USA

    I personally know of divorced and remarried Catholics in my parish who always take communion. Some were married over 20 years and had children. So should I assume that all of them had their marriages annulled? These cases all involved their spouses leaving, creating heartache in their wake. Still, does the fact that they were not the ones who left make it okay for them to take communion after remarrying? I keep wondering what the big deal is, since this is happening in my parish already.