Vatican says bishops should be led by pope on family

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VATICAN CITY (AP) – The Vatican urged bishops on Dec. 9 to be guided by Pope Francis and the “turning point” of a recent meeting on family issues that sought to provide better pastoral care for gay and divorced Catholics and those living in civil unions.

The Vatican just sent a new questionnaire to bishops’ conferences around the world seeking input on a host of family issues. Their responses will help form the basis of debate for the next stage of Francis’ agenda: A big October meeting of top churchmen who will make final recommendations to Francis about how the Catholic Church can better tend to its families.

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Rome mayor registers 16 same sex marriages

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Rome (AP) – The gay marriage debate arrived within walking distance of the Vatican on Saturday as Rome’s mayor defied Italy’s government and registered 16 gay marriages celebrated abroad.

Gay marriage is illegal in Italy. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano recently sent a notice to local prefects saying any registrations of foreign gay marriages would be voided, and Rome’s prefect vowed to do so immediately.

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Bishops scrap welcome to gays

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Vatican City (AP) – Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays Saturday, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.

The bishops approved a final report covering a host of issues related to Catholic family life, acknowledging there were “positive elements” in civil heterosexual unions outside the church and even in cases when men and women were living together outside marriage.

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Conflict soars over Vatican gay shift

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — A fight for the soul of the Catholic Church has broken out, and the first battlefield is a document on family values that pits increasingly alarmed conservatives against more progressive bishops emboldened by Pope Francis’ vision of a church that is more merciful than moralistic.

On Oct. 14, conservative bishops distanced themselves from the document’s unprecedented opening toward gays and divorced Catholics, calling it an “unacceptable” deviation from church teaching that doesn’t reflect their views and vowing to make changes to the final version.

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Bishops say gays have gifts to offer church

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VATICAN CITY (AP) – Catholic bishops showed unprecedented openness Oct. 13 to accepting the real lives of many Catholics today, saying gays had gifts to offer the church and should be accepted and that there were “positive” aspects to a couple living together without being married.

A two-week meeting of bishops on family issues arrived at its halfway point with a document summarizing the closed-door debate so far. No decisions were announced, but the tone of the report was one of almost-revolutionary acceptance, rather than condemnation, with the aim of guiding Catholics toward the ideal of a lasting marriage.

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Pope seeks frank, fearless debate on family issues

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VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis urged bishops Oct. 6 to speak their minds without fear about contentious issues like contraception, gays, marriage and divorce at the start of a two-week meeting aimed at making the church’s teaching on family matters relevant to today’s Catholics.

Francis told bishops they shouldn’t even be afraid of showing him disrespect, saying he wants a frank debate that shouldn’t be tempered by fears that some issues are too taboo to even be discussed.

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U.S. Catholic bishops keep focus on same-sex marriages and abortion

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) – U.S. Roman Catholic bishops meeting June 11 renewed their focus on abortion and gay marriage under Pope Francis.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to make only limited revisions to a guide they publish every presidential election year on church teaching, voting and public policy. The bishops also reaffirmed their fight for broader religious exemptions to laws recognizing gay marriage and a requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employers provide health insurance covering birth control.

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