Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said that the relatio post disceptationem, the mid-term report on the family synod, was “composed under pressure”, which has led to it being misinterpreted in some quarters.
The controversial document, which uses strikingly conciliatory language toward divorced and remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and same-sex unions, has been criticised by some synod fathers who say it does not accurately reflect the assembly’s views.
However Cardinal Nichols said in a statement that the relatio “is not a doctrinal or decisive document”.
“This account of the discussions of the first week served to crystalise 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,” he said.
“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 statement continued: “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. As Cardinal Tagle said ‘the drama continues’.”