Pope Francis has told bishops taking part in a Church review of family teachings that its stance on the indissolubility of marriage was not up for discussion, despite hopes of an opening towards remarried divorced people.
The pontiff, who was not expected to address the global synod on the family on Tuesday, spoke out after concerns among conservatives over a bid by liberals to allow remarried divorced people to take communion.
The Church holds that marriages are for life, and therefore people who remarry are seen as adulterers.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the pontiff, speaking behind closed doors, told bishops that “the doctrine on marriage was not addressed in the previous assembly”, the first stage of the synod, which took place last year.
The working document produced by the 2014 synod is being used as a basis for discussions this year.
Liberals have touted the idea that remarried divorced people might be able to return to the Church on a case by case basis.
But Lombardi said bishops were reminded the hot-button topic should not be their only focus at the three-week council.
According to the minutes taken at the synod, violence against women, families torn apart by immigration, the Church’s approach to homosexuals and polygamy were some of the themes discussed.
The question of “appropriate language to avoid the impression of negatively judging situations and people” was also a recurring theme.
Africans bishops in particular have been very critical of “a new world ethic which disorientates families”, arguing that the West’s stance on homosexuality and divorce was an attempt at “ideological colonisation”.
“If we open the door we may set the cat among the pigeons,” one of them was reported to have said.