May 2, 2016

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GREECE – The news media has focused so much on the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried that they skewed the public's perception of the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops, says Pope Francis.

The pope told reporters he has been "annoyed" and "saddened" by the over-emphasis.

"Don't they understand that the family throughout the world is in crisis?" he asked.

"The family is the foundation of society," Pope Francis said. The great problems include a reluctance by young people to marry, extremely low birth rates in Europe, unemployment, poverty - "those are the big problems."

On his return flight from the Greek island of Lesbos April 16, reporters asked the pope to settle debate about whether the document opened new possibilities for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion under some circumstances.

"I could say, 'Yes. Period,' but that would be too short a response," the pope said.


"I recommend everyone read the presentation made by Cardinal (Christoph) Schonborn" at the Vatican news conference presenting the document.

The cardinal, archbishop of Vienna, had said the document represented "true innovations, but no break" with Church tradition.

The document emphasizes the need for greater reflection and discernment by pastors and Catholic couples in so-called "irregular" situations as they look for ways they can participate more deeply in Church life, Schonborn said.

Proper discernment is nothing new, the cardinal said.


It has always been the serious duty of the lay faithful and their pastors or confessors. Everyone is responsible, he said, because "you cannot play with the sacraments; you cannot play with the conscience."

Those in a broken marriage must honestly examine their conscience before God, he said.

They should reflect on their role in the marriage's breakdown or whether it was canonically valid in the first place, the pope said.