On the plane back from the Holy Land, the Pope answered some questions, including this most important attempt at clarification of the most controversial ongoing topic of the upcoming Synod of Bishops:
- [Reporter:] You are a political and spiritual leader, who opens up many expectations with initiatives such as the meeting with the leaders of Israel and Palestine. Also in the Church there are many hopes of change, as it occurs with the situation of the divorced. Does it not seem to you that you are putting too much meat in the oven? Do you not think that you have opened up too many fronts and too many expectations?- [Francis:] This meeting in the Vatican will be a prayer meeting. It will not be to establish mediation or to search for a solution. It will be prayer, and then they come back home. But I do believe prayer is important. Praying together, without starting discussions... It will be a prayer meeting. There will be a rabbi, a Muslim, and myself. I asked the Custodian of the Holy Land to arrange the practical things.I thank you for your question on the divorced. The [October 2014] Synod will be on the family, its problems, about the richness of family, the current situation of the family. The preliminary presentation that cardinal Kasper made had five chapters. Four on the beautiful things of the family from a theological perspective, family problems, the pastoral problem of separations, matrimonial nullity, divorced and the problem of communion... It did not please me that so many people, including in the Church, priests, etc, spoke of communion for the divorced as if it were all reduced to casuistry. We know that there is a crisis of the family. Young people do not want to get married, or do not get married, live together... I do not wish that we got into casuistry: what can be done or cannot be done... That is why I am so thankful for this question, because it gives me the opportunity to clarify. The pastoral problem of the family is very, very wide, and should not be plucked case by case. That which Pope Benedict said three timesv - once in the South Tyrol, another time in Milan, and another in a consistory - is that the procedures of matrimonial nullity have to be examined. To study the faith with which a person enters matrimony, and clarify that divorcees are not strange. Oftentimes they are treated as if they were. I am certain that it was the Spirit of the Lord who guided us to choose this theme for the Synod. The family needs much pastoral help.
[Source: Spanish daily La Razón, text in Spanish. Ellipses in original text, merely indicating oral tone.]