Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Pope braced for marriage clash as world's bishops meet

03 October 2014, 14:59

Vatican - Nice-guy Pope Francis looks set to have his mettle tested by his first mutiny in the ranks this weekend at a Catholic meeting on the contentious issue of traditional marriage.

The Church has long refused to relax rules for "sinners", but amid a flurry of countries legalising same-sex marriage and a rise in divorce levels, reform-minded Francis has suggested there may be wiggle-room on doctrine, sparking panic among conservatives.

Hundreds of bishops will attend the October 5-19 synod at the Vatican and tensions are running high after weeks of heated sparring.

"On the one side there are those who fear openness will result in the Catholic doctrine crumbling away, and on the other there are those who are waiting for big news and may be disappointed," Iacopo Scaramuzzi, Vatican expert for TMNews, told AFP TV.

Francis said last year that it was time to "re-examine... rules or precepts" and "certain customs" in the Church, calling for generosity towards wayward believers.

Read also: Girl's family seeks reversal of brain-death ruling

Then in February his close ally German Cardinal Walter Kasper, tapped by the 77-year-old to address the world's cardinals on hot-button issues, sparked further controversy by calling for a more "merciful" approach to remarried Catholics who want to take communion, the main sacrament for Catholics.

Ignoring the cacophony of outraged voices, Francis went a step further last month by marrying couples in Saint Peter's Basilica who had been "living in sin", as the Church terms unmarried people cohabiting and unmarried mothers.

He also repeated his concerns that unwed mothers and their children are not finding the compassion they deserve from a stony-hearted Church.

A group of prominent conservatives hit back this week in a letter to the pope which urged him to uphold traditions and resist laws that redefine marriage, as recent legislation on gay unions has done in many countries.

A book by five rebel cardinals demanding the Church stand firm on remarried Catholics threw Francis into a fury, according to sources close to the Vatican.

Bombs, sinners, the devil

The pope "has not mastered the media machine on remarried divorcees and Cardinal Kasper's adversaries have managed to occupy the field," said Vatican expert and author Nicolas Diat.

With tension mounting, the pope warned of "very dangerous bombs" in the Vatican which "threaten the life of the Church" and reminded would-be trouble makers that "division within a Christian community is a very grave sin, it is the work of the devil."

There is no doubt among experts that gay marriage will be strictly off the table at the talks, as will abortion. At the heart of the debate will be the question as to how remarried divorced people can receive communion when they have broken their promise to God.

But critics say the rule treats remarried divorcees worse than criminals, because a convicted mafia gangster can receive communion after absolution by a priest, whilst a divorced mother cannot if she marries a new partner.

Read also: China warns of chaos if Hong Kong protests persist

Francis set off alarm-bells among traditionalists last year with an unprecedented questionnaire on family issues which asked bishops for parish-level input on issues such as contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce.

Many bishops shifted the burden to local priests, however, and most declined to reveal the opinions canvassed from individual Catholics, shying away from the public debate sought by the pope.

Experts have warned against expecting a change in Church doctrine from this synod, which is only aimed at getting the ball rolling. A second meeting in a year's time will be used by the bishops to begin putting in place a pastoral plan which should reflect earlier deliberations.

But with a very limited number of women, married couples and lay people invited to take part, the Church has been accused -- once again -- of entrusting the future of the Catholic family to the hands of celibate men.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
William Korir
ODM kicks 6 MPs out of Parliament...

ODM has kicked 6 rebel members out of house committees. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Karua now headed to Jubilee?

Is Martha Karua now headed to the Jubilee Coalition? Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Kenneth defends move to support U...

Peter Kenneth says that moving to support President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Jubilee Party is his democratic choice. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
How to keep her interested

It is not only men who lose interest in relationships. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
What to do after breakup

Your life does not end after breakup. Here are tips to move on: Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Rare gift for President Uhuru Ken...

Young Jubilee supporters have a rare surprise gift for the President. Read more...