By Philip Pullella. A gathering of world Roman Catholic bishops was thrown into confusion on Monday with the leak of a letter from conservative cardinals to Pope Francis bitterly complaining that the meeting was stacked against them.
It was published by the same Italian journalist whose press credentials were stripped by the Holy See last June after he ran a leaked copy of the pope’s major encyclical on the environment.
The gathering, or synod, of more than 300 bishops, delegates and observers, including some married couples, is discussing how the 1.2 billion-member Church can confront challenges facing the modern family.
The bishops are debating ways to defend the traditional family and make life-long marriage more appealing to young people, and at the same time reach out to disaffected Catholics such as homosexuals, co-habiting couples and the divorced.
L’Espresso newsweekly, which published the English-language letter in full, said 13 cardinals signed the letter and one of them hand-delivered it to the pope last week. (Read more from “Leaked Letter Adds Intrigue, Confusion to Vatican Bishops Meeting” HERE)
Rebel Cardinals Accuse Pope of Stacking Synod Cards
By Agence France-Presse. Conservative cardinals have accused Pope Francis of stacking the cards against them in an ongoing battle over issues including the Church’s approach to gays and to divorced and remarried believers, it emerged Monday.
In a letter sent to the pontiff on October 5, the opening day of a Church synod on the family, a group of cardinals described procedures for three weeks of discussions as “designed to facilitate predetermined results on important disputed questions.”
The ostensibly private (but quickly leaked) letter was delivered to the pope by Australian Cardinal George Pell and reportedly signed by peers including the archbishops of Toronto and New York, Thomas Collins and Timothy Dolan, and arch-Vatican conservative Carlo Caffarra, the archbishop of Bologna.
A day later, without making any reference to the letter, Francis made an unscheduled intervention in the synod discussions to warn participants not to be taken in by “spiritually unhelpful” conspiracy theories.
And in comments that now look like a slapdown of a challenge to his authority, he also pointedly stressed that he had personally approved the methodology for three weeks of talks intended to reshape Catholic teaching on a broad range of questions related to family life. (Read more from this story HERE)