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Melanie McDonagh The mad monarch who saved my life FEATURE, PAGE 8

Max Wind-Cowie What Leo XIII can teach Nigel Farage COMMENT, PAGE 12

Piers Paul Read If I wasn’t Catholic I’d choose atheism


No. 6681

October 17 2014 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)

Cardinals are split after ‘pastoral earthquake’ shakes family synod

Backlash as draft report calls for new approach on cohabitation, remarriage and homosexuality


THE FAMILY SYNOD will release its closing message tomorrow after a week marked by controversy over a draft text that praised the “positive elements” of cohabitation, remarriage and same-sex partnerships.

The drama began on Monday when the draft report, known as relatio post disceptationem, was released to the media. The document, which summarised the first week of discussions at the synod, called for a radical new approach to Catholics living in “irregular situations”. Invoking “the principle of gradualness”, it said the Church should recognise the positive aspects of “imperfect forms” of family life.

Veteran Vatican-watcher John Thavis said the text represented a “pastoral earthquake”.

The draft report quickly produced a backlash among some synod fathers.

Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke said: “The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one synod father called ‘revolutionary’, teaching on marriage and the family. It invokes repeatedly and in a confused manner principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.”

South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier told the media on Tuesday that the document’s message had put synod participants in a position which is “virtually irredeemable”.

He said: “The message has gone out: this is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic Church is saying and it’s not what we’re saying at all. No matter how we try correcting that ... there’s no way of retrieving it. The message has gone out and it’s not a true message. Whatever we say hereafter is going to be as if we’re doing some damage control.”

As the controversy raged, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster under

At a glance: the draft synod report

The draft report, known as the relatio post disceptationem, is 5,500 words long and contains 58 paragraphs. The report was overseen by Hungarian Cardinal Péter Erdő (the synod’s relator), the Italian theologian Archbishop Bruno Forte (special secretary) and Vatican Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri (secretary general) Pope Francis took the unusual step of appointing six extra synod fathers to draft the synod’s final report. They are Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop Peter Kang U-IL and Fr Adolfo Nicolás lined that the text was “not doctrinal or decisive”.

He said: “This account of the discussions of the first week served to crystallise the hopes and difficulties raised in that week. It is proving to be a stimulant to very searching and creative discussions in the small language group of which I am a member.

“I appreciate the spirit of the report which seeks to proclaim and strengthen the pastoral care of the Church. The warmth and the reach of the Church’s pastoral care is crucial, even if not always known or experienced.

“The report, obviously composed under pressure, has easily given rise to some misinterpretation. It’s nature has to be understood. It is not doctrinal or decisive document. It is, as stated in its conclusion, ‘intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer reflection’.

“The process of this extraordinary synod is being conducted with great openness. This report comes at the half-way stage. I know that one of the deepest desires of the synod fathers is to blow a trumpet for marriage and family as central part of God’s plan for our happiness and fulfilment.”

The global media reaction to the report spurred the Vatican to issue a clarification on Tuesday. It said: “The general secretariat of the synod, in response to reactions and discussions following the publication of the relatio post disceptationem, and the fact that often a value has been attributed to the document that does not correspond to its nature, reiterates that it is a working document, which summarises the interventions and debate of the first week, and is now being offered for discussion by the members of the synod gathered in the small groups, in accordance with the regulations of the synod.”

As The Catholic Herald went to press, Pope Francis had not publicly commented on the draft report. He has addressed the synod only once, on the first full day, urging participants to speak freely and frankly.

Cardinal Burke argued that a statement from the Pope was “long overdue”.

He said: “The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church.”

Francis is expected to preach when he presides at the beatification Mass of Pope Paul VI on Sunday. The Mass will mark the end of the two-week synod. A second synod on the family will take place in 2015. Known as an “ordinary” synod, it will have a larger number of participants than this month’s “extraordinary” synod. The conclusions of the two synods will then be presented to Pope Francis, who is likely to issue a document known as the post-synod apostolic exhortation, possibly in 2016, offering a new pastoral plan for the worldwide Church. Synod reports: Pages 2-3 Vatican Notebook: Page 3 Editorial Comment: Page 13

Francis prays at a morning session of the family synod, which concludes on Sunday with the beatification of Paul VI PA

Have a spare room? Take in a homeless person, urges charity BY DAVID V BARRETT

CATHOLICS with a spare room are being asked to take in a young person for the night.

The Catholic charity Depaul, which provides beds for homeless young people, said that “an unprecedented rise in youth homelessness” has caused demand for their services to rise by 300 per cent in the last 12 months in some parts of the country.

The charity supports a network of emergency accommodation services, known as Nightstops, which place homeless people aged 16 to 25 in the homes of more than 740 volunteer hosts.

The hosts provide a room, evening meal and listening ear to a young homeless person for one night or for up to two weeks.

A spokesman for the charity said it did not place anyone with high support needs, such as “mental health needs, violent or aggressive behaviour, current drug or alcohol use, or presenting a real risk of offending”. Staff then work with the young people to help them address issues that caused them to become homeless, providing family mediation and securing longer-term settled accommodation.

Depaul UK, named after St Vincent de Paul, was founded in 1989 when Cardinal Basil Hume brought together the Daughters of Charity, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the Passage in Victoria to respond to the needs of the growing numbers of vulnerable young people sleeping rough in London. It now operates as Depaul International, in Ireland, Slovakia, Ukraine and America.

Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive of Depaul UK, said: “Recent times have been tough on young people, with an estimated 80,000 becoming homeless or sleeping rough last year in Britain.”

If you would like to sign up as a host family, visit

Lead Kindly Light The Life and Message of John Henry Newman fo egasseM dna efeiL ehT d n i Ki d a e L

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Cardinal has dinner with atheist novelist


ATHEIST novelist Ian McEwan had dinner last week with Cardinal Cormac MurphyO’Connor, former Archbishop of Westminster, according to an eagle-eyed diarist at London’s Evening Standard.

The two dined at the Garrick Club, a private gentlemen’s club founded in 1831 for actors and “men of letters”. In 2001 Mr McEwan said: “I’m an atheist. I really don’t believe for a moment that our moral sense comes from a God.” Later in the interview he said: “My own view of religion is that people must be free to worship all the gods they want. But it’s only the secular spirit that will guarantee that freedom.”

His latest novel, The Children Act, is about a court case involving a teenager who refuses medical treatment on religious grounds. In 2000 Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor made a submission in a court case in favour of religious beliefs influencing medical decisions.

A Church spokeswoman confirmed the dinner took place.

Justin Bieber told off during visit to Vatican


THE POP star Justin Bieber was reportedly reprimanded for kicking a football around the Vatican last week.

The “One Time” singer paid £16,000 for a private tour of Vatican City, taking in the Vatican museum and the papal apartments, which are not occupied by Pope Francis. But it is understood that he irritated staff when he began to kick a ball around the corridors.

The 20-year-old previously embarrassed himself on The Late Show with

David Letterman when he referred to the Sistine Chapel as the “Sixteenth


The singer was born in Canada and raised a Christian. In the past he has said that Jesus is the “reason I am here”. His mother, Pattie Mallette, was baptised and raised a Catholic, and her son attended a Catholic school.

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