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Pope Francis to write apostolic exhortation following family synod

Cardinal Pietro Parolin spoke about the 'new climate economy' at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (CNS)

Pope Francis will write an Apostolic Exhortation on the Synod on the Family “soon” while “the iron’s hot”, a cardinal confirmed.

The papal document “will be based on the conclusions of the synod, as is the tradition,” Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin told the Italian news agency ANSA.

The three-week Synod of the Family saw 270 bishops discuss, among other things, communion for divorcees and the civilly remarried as well as the Church’s pastoral approach to the LGBT community.

Cardinal Parolin discussed the pope’s response to the synod after a lecture at the Gregorian University for the 50th anniversary of ‘Nostra Aetate,’ the Vatican II document on the relation of the Catholic Church to non-Christian religions.

The cardinal said the synod fathers in their final document, which they approved on October 24, had requested Pope Francis write a document on the family.

“We humbly ask the Holy Father that he evaluate the opportunity of offering a document on the family,” the request said. “So that in it the domestic church may reflect always more clearly Christ, the light of the world.”

Asked when the document might appear, Cardinal Parolin added: “This I don’t know, but I don’t think it will take too long. After all, it’s best to strike while the iron’s hot.”

Earlier in the week, the Father General of the Jesuits, Adolfo Nicolàs, S.J., who attended the synod, also confirmed there would be an apostolic exhortation.

In an interview with an Italian newspaper he said: “Yes, there will be an Apostolic Exhortation of the Pope. I do not believe it will come out late – after one year – as happened in other synods and with other popes.

“A year is too much. Experts in management tell me that if eight months pass by without saying anything then people return to the starting point and it’s necessary to re-do the whole process. I believe that Francis will be more rapid in preparing it.”

Father Nicolàs added: “The church has always been weak when it comes to follow-up,” but, “the fruit of the synod cannot just be a document, however good.”

He said: “The fruit [of the synod] is practical: what is done, what happens in the pastoral situation, in the parishes when people start asking. It’s there that one sees [the follow up].”

“The ideal follow-up would consist of particular synods,” he added. “Each bishop when he returns home holds a synod with his people, both priests and laity, to discuss how to realise here the possibilities [opened by the synod on the family].”