Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., talks with Catholic News Service after he was elected the new president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 12, 2013 in Baltimore. Photo by Nancy Phelan Wiechec, courtesy Catholic News Service

US archbishop urges both sides to cool down at Vatican

VATICAN CITY (RNS) After two days of fighting between happy liberals and angry conservatives, the Vatican on Wednesday (Oct. 15) dispatched a leading moderate from the U.S. church to tell both sides to temper their expectations about impending changes in church doctrine.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stressed that a working document on family issues released on Monday (Oct. 13) is simply that -- a draft document still subject to amendment by about 200 bishops and lay delegates meeting at Vatican City.

Monday's midpoint report from the two-week Synod on the Family raised expectations that the Catholic Church was poised to revolutionize its teaching on homosexuality, divorce and cohabitation, saying gays and lesbians have “gifts and qualities” to offer the church.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., talks with Catholic News Service after he was elected the new president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 12, 2013 in Baltimore. Photo by Nancy Phelan Wiechec, courtesy Catholic News Service

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., talks with Catholic News Service after he was elected the new president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 12, 2013, in Baltimore. Photo by Nancy Phelan Wiechec, courtesy of Catholic News Service

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On Wednesday, Kurtz, flanked by Spanish Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach and Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella, urged both sides to take a breath.

“The working document is an important moment, but it is a moment,” Kurtz told journalists. “It’s at the surface of the synod discussion. I see the synod as a process. My focus is going to be on the document that will be the fruitfulness of the whole process and that includes our amendments.”

Kurtz was vague on what kind of changes the bishops may or may not approve by the time they head home this weekend. The synod is just a kickoff to a follow-up summit in October 2015.

Even so, both sides continued to maneuver for and against changes that have been called nothing short of an "earthquake." Conservatives led by American Cardinal Raymond Burke and German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller have been leading a strenuous pushback.

Cardinal George Pell, a conservative who is one of Pope Francis' closest advisers, told The Tablet he thought the document was “tendentious and incomplete." He said it needed to be "enhanced and corrected."

Meanwhile, liberal German Cardinal Walter Kasper appeared to inflame the debate after telling Catholic agency Zenit that a “growing majority” of synod delegates support allowing Communion for Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment.

“I hoped there would be some opening and I think the majority is in favor,” Kasper told Zenit. "That is the impression I have, but there is no vote. But I think some opening would be left [to happen]. Perhaps it would also be left to the next part of the synod."

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told CBS This Morning the synod would find common ground that would satisfy hard-liners, including Burke.

“All of this is almost like antipasto to help the Holy Father arrive in a fresh new way to teach the timeless teachings of the church on marriage and family.”




  1. Cardinal Dolan is playing his soft-shoe church politics again when he talks about new ways to teach “timeless teachings of the church on marriage and the family” or anything else. That implies that we never gain in knowledge and understanding. The errors of old doctrine cannot fit new times when we know better. Let’s quit talking as if church people, including clergy, are God.

    This confrontation is a perfect example of the error the church has made in ever claiming its teachings were eternal rather than timely understandings–and misunderstandings–that had to be subject to change as we got to know better. We, popes, bishops, people in the pews, are not gods. It was an error to ever infer, even bluntly claim, that the Bible was the “word of God” as if God guided the hands of people who wrote those ancient, contradictory, sometimes evil documents out of which some high-minded good ideas did arise as in some of the claimed preachings of Jesus–some of them.

    The originals have long been dust. No one who has lived in many past millennia ever saw them. We should rather admit that so-called sacred scriptures are the mixed words of humans, some good, some representing their ignorance and most evil ideas.

    The “speech” of God continues. It is up to us to keep trying to listen and stop playing god.

  2. This also proves the weakness and incompetence of only bishops deciding church teachings. Church teachings should never be closed, final statements as if we know everything at any given time. But that’s the problem that results from claiming that the words of humans are the words of God.

  3. Something must be done to make some of the required captions more legible. Even with excellent vision, too many of them are impossible to read.

  4. Try the second lettering in the next one for starters.

  5. Things will only get worse in this department, since the Church is so heavily involved in politics. It’s the political systems that will attack and put an end to her (and the rest of false religion) at the end of this wicked era (Revelation 18 and 19).

  6. “Church teachings should never be closed, final statements as if we know everything at any given time.”

    Well, that’s right, gilhcan.

    Belief with 100% certainty doesn’t mean you have found the truth. It means you have stopped looking for it.

  7. Bishops of the World: Keep the Church Conservative and always think what Jesus would do if He were standing before you. He will judge you on your decisions. He will judge you on how you lead your flock. He will judge you if you change Church doctrine. Sin is sin and if people use free choice to be in the state of sin we can not make sin more acceptable, sacraments are for those not choosing to be in the state of sin. Do not cause scandal for the flock in your decisions.

  8. Gilhcan, if you are a Catholic, I’t may be you lost your faith. If you are not a Catholic, it makes no difference whatsoever what your opinion is here on purely Catholic matters.

  9. What is Burke “hiding or running from” that he puts the “LAW” before people and compassion and Jesus? Ciao, M M

  10. Bishops: The Consecration of Russia by all the Bishops of the World hasn’t been done. The signs of the times shows us it hasn’t been done. What are you waiting for? If the Bl. Mother asked for it to be done in 1917 what’s the problem. Can you not follow heavens requests? Why does the world have to suffer because
    the Consecration is not done. We are waiting and Catholics know who the liberals
    are who do not want this done. Rally behind the Pope and do as the Bl. Mother requested!!!!! Thanks Archbishop Burke for all you’ve done for the Church.

  11. Mary,
    I read your comment and I believe laws are made for a reasons. Unlike our President who chooses to break the law in the name of change and compassion.
    Jesus will never condone sin. He is not a liar. He is not a thief. He does not destroy what is holy. He does not go back on His word. Compassion is telling people not to sin. Understanding is knowing the Ten Commandments and what they mean. Laws are mean’t to guide the people to perfection. Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. One mortal sin unconfessed = hell.

  12. Hell Mary Hell Mary that is what Burke is running from for himself and the souls intrusted to his care.

  13. Not a time to calm down. Time to express anger, by actions and words, to the Catholic Church accepting homosexuality.

  14. I’ve submitted this comment multiple times? ? Is this what censorship looks like? I see the Roman Catholic tradition of silencing detractors/dissenters hasn’t changed!
    Homosexual Bishops promoting traditional family values is a contradiction in terms.
    ARTICLE: Swiss Guard Propositioned by Bishops, Cardinals and Priests While Serving in the Vatican
    Scandal: The former member of the Swiss Guard, which is responsible for protecting the Pope, alleged an active ‘gay lobby’ at the heart of the Vatican.
    In the latest sex scandal to engulf the Catholic church, the security guard said a senior official fondled him. He also claimed a bishop left a bottle of whiskey on his bed with a visiting card placed next to it.
    During another incident a priest had invited him to dinner saying that the guard would be served after for dessert. He also claimed that he reported the harassment to officials in the Vatican who offered him no support and attacked the Church’s ‘hypocrisy’ of opposing sex outside of marriage and supporting the excommunication of divorcees. The ex-soldier claimed that he received 20 to 25 explicit sexual advances, including on one occasion from a cardinal who invited him up to his rooms in the Vatican. He said that he reported the unsolicited attention to his superiors but was accused of misunderstanding conversations as a result of his purportedly poor Italian.
    Source: Gloria.TV – News Briefs 07/01/2014 06:00:37

  15. My Apology to Religion News . . I submitted this comment at another discussion board and it was not posted. That explains the preface to my comment. Again my apologies . . and thank for posting my comment in its’ entirety

  16. Homosexual Bishops promoting traditional family values / mores is a contradiction in terms. Former Roman Catholic priest Richard Sipe exposes the “dark side” of the unholy Roman Catholic “church”.
    “Some Cardinals, bishops, abbots, seminary rectors are or have been sexually active. Some of that activity has been with their subordinates. Only a minor proportion of their sexual activity may be between them and children or minors. But some prelates in the highest ranks of church power do have sex with minors, mostly boys. Nonetheless the sexual histories of church officials are often known within the closely guarded circle of high-ranking clerics. Part of this knowledge is acquired and sealed over the years behind the seal of confession. Some of it is bound by the brotherhood of the Scarlet Bond that forbids scandal and the preservation of image at all costs. Superiors who are or have been sexually active are compelled to keep their activity secret and preserve their anonymity. For instance Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles knew about or lived with several priests who have been credibly accused, convicted, or imprisoned for abuse. The cover up of abuse by the American bishops is now well documented even is substantial Grand Jury Reports.[12] The dynamic of the cover up is outlined also in Ireland[13]. This dynamic is operative also in the Vatican.”
    *Source / Website: Priests, Celibacy, Sexuality & the Catholic Church
    Article: PEDOPHILIA & CELIBACY / by A. W. Richard Sipe

  17. After all is said and done and after the dust settles, and all right-thinking Catholics will have left, taking their children and pocketbooks with them, the unholy Roman Catholic “church” will be filled with homosexuals both in the pulpit and pew alike and the homosexual priests / bishops will be preaching to the homosexual laity on the evils of abortion, contraception / birth control and divorce.
    “Be not deceived; God is not mocked.” God’s Word: Galatians 6:7

  18. @Joel,

    “Time to express anger, by actions and words, to the Catholic Church accepting homosexuality.”

    Change the word ‘homosexuality’ to “people born without ears” and
    you might begin to understand why Atheists simply hate
    the cruelty of religion.

    You have a transparently bigoted philosophy.

    I do not hate Christians.
    Nor do I hate God (he doesn’t exist).

    I hate bad ideas such as religion. And thank you for helping me demonstrate for other Christians just how catastrophic this despicable this ancient philosophy really is.

    Homosexuality is not a choice a person makes for themselves. Your god hates too much of his (supposed) creation!

  19. This ancient philiophy is what we stand our beliefs on. Have you witness the pain of sleep. We advocated the church come down on all the hidden Preece that rate our children. Now you say it’s okay to advocate i’m sexuality. Homosexuality is children grown-up accustomed to being raped. And yeah I’ll call it hidden love. Shame on you seek another avenue to promote you deviancy.

  20. You have a right to our opinion, Sharon. Please don’t set yourself up as talking for Christ. When did He communicate with you and tell you that your thoughts are His thoughts?

  21. I suggest you pray for humility, Sharon, and see that such an outlook as your’s is neither compassionate or merciful. I would hesitate, if I was you, to speak for God regarding whether a sin is mortal or not. He knows every soul intimately and meets every soul where it is with love and understanding. I would hate to be as sure as you are. Law and Sin? Yikes!

  22. I meant, Sharon, that you have a right to YOUR opinion — not Our.

  23. We will be judged on every thought, word and deed. God has told us how to live in the bible and His life on earth. The church instructs us, tradition gives us information. I wasn’t raised to take my faith for granted. My remarks were exactly as if Jesus were speaking through the Holy Spirit to me in what He will and will not do. All has been written no one can come up with anything new, just different words to come to the same truth. People have different gifts of the Holy Spirit for the good of mankind, not my words but the Holy Spirits helping me also to understand the churches authority. The Church has all it needs to teach us what is sin. God is merciful in giving us the Sacrament of Confession. Even the Pope and Church hierarchy make use of this beloved Sacrament. They are not always with out error in their life also. Praise God for the most holy church on the face of the earth, one true, holy and apostolic Church!!!!!!!

  24. Excuse me, both sides? How can there be a “both sides?” Right is right and wrong is wrong. Doesn’t the Catholic Church teach the scripture and is it not very clear on the subject of homosexuality?

  25. Maybe we should calm down like during Vatican II when the public was all but asleep and as it was being implemented and misinterpreted we are now sadly down the road in quite a mess! I think the media should stay all over this situation and the people need to be active and vigilant not trusting that all are well intentioned at this synod. To act other wise would be foolish

  26. When things go well for the church you say thanks to The Holy Spirit.
    When things go poorly for the church you say thanks to The Devil.

    And you pretend this isn’t really just a silly parlor game?

    God never gets the blame for all the bad
    But God is always the reason for the good.

    Like the old con, “Heads I Win, Tails you Lose.”
    Religion is the longest running con in history.

    You are welcome to your beliefs but keep Jesus out of our laws – keep religion away from government.

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