During this morning's discussions, "there was no sense of doom or gloom or despair," but a desire to share ideas that are working to promote church teaching.
Africans "have come of age," said Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama. "We should be allowed to think for ourselves."
Unable to resist telling the world about a personal event that is dear to his heart, Pope Francis said that 70 years ago to the day, he celebrated his first Communion.
"They say that you shouldn't talk about personal things, but I can't resist the temptation," he said at his weekly general audience Wednesday in St. Peter's Square.
Existing programs aimed at helping Catholic families are not strong enough to meet modern needs, a Wisconsin couple told the Synod of Bishops.
A papal commission on child protection will be expanding its nine-member panel to include more experts and another survivor of clerical abuse.
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."
The separation of married couples is a huge issue in the Philippines and other parts of Asia, not because of divorce but because poverty pushes couples to separate in search of jobs abroad, said Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila.
While he hopes the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried couples is debated openly and with good will, he said he also hopes members of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops give appropriate consideration to the impact of poverty and migration on families and to a host of other issues that help or hinder family life.
"The church constantly faces the tension of upholding the truth while expressing compassion and mercy. Families face this tension all the time."
Extremist groups in the Middle East, including the Islamic State, must be stopped with sanctioned military force and through dialogue, a Vatican statement said.
"One cannot be silent, nor [can] the international community remain inactive, in the face of the massacre of persons," said the statement issued Saturday at the end of a three-day Vatican summit on the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
"The participants at the meeting reaffirmed that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor, always in accordance with international law," it said.
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.