Briefing journalists today, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said the Extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals is not meant to preempt the results of the upcoming Synod of Bishops in October, but rather be a preparation to face the challenges of the family today.
Pope Francis addressed the cardinals this morning.
Fr. Lombardi said that although it was brief, the Holy Father’s address contained his precise thoughts on what the focus of the consistory should be.
“We will seek to deepen the theology of the family and discern the pastoral practices which our present situation requires,” the Pope said. The Holy Father also called on the cardinals to do so without falling into “casuistry”, which Fr. Lombardi explained meant to avoid fragmentation of the discourse at hand in order to address the pastoral dimension of families.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, addressed the cardinals after the Holy Father’s address.
Fr. Lombardi said Cardinal Kasper showed in his address “a great harmony” with what was said by the Pope. “There is a great desire to have a deeper understanding of the family, for the good of humanity,” he said.
The Vatican spokesman said that while the focus of the Consistory will discuss the pastoral problems of today, they will focus solely on those problems. Cardinal Kasper’s address lasted roughly two hours.
Although Cardinal Kasper’s address is not expected to be published, Fr. Lombardi said several themes were discussed by the German prelate. Among the areas of discussion were: the family in the order of Creation and the structure of sin in the reality of the family, the latter of which dealt with the alienation between man and woman, body and spirit and the difficulties faced by women and mothers.
One major focal point of Cardinal Kasper’s discourse was the family as a domestic Church, proposing a pastoral approach for the family today and its life in the Church. Cardinal Kasper, Fr. Lombardi said, “proposes a pastoral vision of the family today, and its place in the life of the Church.”
“So, around the idea of the domestic Church, as a central point of vitality and of experience of the Church in the daily and concrete life, I believe that the theme of the family and the place of the family in the life of the Church and new evangelization was developed well.”
The Vatican spokesman also said Cardinal Kasper spoke at length about couples that are divorced and remarried, reiterating that the issue requires “the inseparable” components of “faithfulness to the words of Jesus, and mercy on the lives of the people and the pastoral action of the Church.”
Regarding the interventions made during the consistory today, which reflect the theme of the upcoming Synod of Bishops, Fr. Lombardi stressed they did not discuss all the questions on the family nor pre-empt the Synod. Instead, he said there was “a harmonious symphony of different voices of the Church” on the theme of the family.
The interventions on the family at the Consistory, he concluded, prepares a path towards the upcoming Synod in order “to find a harmonious and credible answer to the theme of the pastoral of the family in today’s world.”