VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis urged bishops to be frank and not afraid to “speak freely” as a synod on the thorny subject of Catholic teachings on the family opened in Rome on Monday.
The pope has made himself the “guarantor” of the smooth running of the extraordinary meeting, which will tackle the delicate issues of unmarried couples, single mothers and the remarriage of divorced people.
The roughly 250 bishops taking part in the debates, which will go on until October 19, must “talk clearly” and welcome the “contributions of others with humility… to progress the Gospel of the family,” Francis said.
“No one should say that we cannot say this or that because we are going to think like this… We must say everything, and be free to say everything that we feel,” using the Greek word “parrhesia”, meaning to speak candidly.
The synod opened in a relaxed atmosphere despite sharp exchanges in print and in interviews beforehand between cardinals on the controversial question of whether remarried divorced Catholics should be allowed to receive communion.