Vatican synod on family ending amid divisions
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A contentious gathering of Catholic bishops ends on Saturday with a document that is not expected to break major new ground on how the church should minister to gays and to divorcees who have remarried.
The meeting, or synod, of more than 300 bishops and delegates is due to end on Saturday afternoon after participants vote on more than 1,300 proposed changes to a draft of the text.
While the advisory body does not have the power to alter church doctrine, there is great anticipation on the kind of language the document will use to discuss the most contentious issues.
The pope, who is the final arbiter on any change and who has called for a more merciful and inclusive church, can use the material to write his own document, known as an "apostolic exhortation".
Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent, Belgium, seen as a progressive, told reporters he hoped the synod would lead to "the end of judging people, the end of a church that casts judgment over every situation".
Another progressive, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, lamented that some bishops still saw the church "as a castle surrounded by enemies that has to be defended".
The pope called the two-part meeting - the first session took place a year ago - to discuss ways to shore up the family as the basic cell of society amid a changing world while looking after those who do not live up to the church's ideals.
While many topics were discussed, much of the attention was devoted to the large number of Catholics with failed first marriages who have divorced and remarried civilly. Continued...