Questions over the tone presented by the synod toward gay people dominated conversations Thursday, after the Vatican seemingly tried to water down its message of openness.
Synod14 -- Eleventh General Assembly: "Relatio post disceptationem" of the General Rapporteur, Card. Péter Erdő, 13.10.2014
The document, said Barcelona Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, is "far from being complete," but it is a collection of what was said in the first week of the synod.
A midpoint report from this month's Synod of Bishops reveals that Catholic leaders are considering more conciliatory language toward gays and lesbians, divorced and remarried Catholics, and couples who live together before getting married.
Meeting with nearly 200 senior prelates and several dozen lay experts and observers at the Vatican, Pope Francis has deliberately engineered a lively discussion of issues concerning marriage and family life. This assembly, and a follow-up summit in 2015, will help shape the pontiff's legacy.
South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier said the synod's relatio has put the prelates in "a position that is virtually irredeemable."
"This morning in the free discussion, some of the synod fathers and participants said openly that they felt the spirit of Vatican II very much."
Analysis: Listening, respecting, welcoming, dialogue are words repeated throughout the Synod of Bishops' new document. Condemnation and marginalization are nowhere to be found.
The document the synod released Monday acknowledges that the strict application of church doctrine is no longer enough to support people seeking God.
Irish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says the synod on the family "has to find new language to show that there can be development of doctrine."
Both Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich are campaigning for a new look at marriage and the family at the ongoing synod in Rome.