One theme said to be included in the synod: how the prelates use labels that "are not necessarily words that invite people to draw closer to the church."
"I wonder, though, if it is helpful to frame pastoral questions as totally distinct from doctrinal issues; to me, this downplays the significance of the challenges families face."
"The church constantly faces the tension of upholding the truth while expressing compassion and mercy. Families face this tension all the time."
NCR Today: This change in attitude is fueled by a pastoral concern for the huge number of divorced and remarried Catholics who are not allowed to go to Communion.
We say: The Vatican under Francis is acting. This is progress and portends of more action. This is something to applaud.
Synod on the family: Pope Francis told the prelates they should speak without fear of upsetting him or limiting discussions to things he would want to hear.
Synod on the family: "Bad shepherds lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others," said Pope Francis, opening the Synod of Bishops.
In an address to the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, Pope Francis warned bishops against accepting men for the priesthood who are not healthy or balanced.
The Congregation for the Clergy deals with priestly vocations and formation as well as the life of priests. The pope spoke Friday during a plenary meeting of the congregation, which includes cardinals and bishops from all over the world.
Global Sisters Report: While much of the pre-synod discussion has centered on whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion, many issues are up for grabs this month.
The highest ranking U.S. bishop at the Vatican says this month's Synod of Bishops on the family should mark the end of a high-level debate over whether to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
"The matter really has to be clarified at this point so that this doesn't continue," Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, told Catholic News Service on Wednesday. "For this to go on for another year, it can only do harm."