Calm down, liberal and conservative Catholics, the church won’t break

by Charlotte Allen  |  published on November 18, 2014

Conservative and liberal Catholics don’t agree on much at the moment, but they do agree on one thing: The Catholic Church is headed toward a schism.

The conflict they’re predicting has its roots in the bishops’ “synod on the family” that wound up in Vatican City last month. The gathering quickly turned into an ecclesiastical free-for-all on an issue only peripherally related to families but on the minds of many Roman Catholics these days: whether the church should adopt a more welcoming attitude toward people in living arrangements that contravene traditional church teaching.

A group of liberal bishops — some say with the behind-the-scenes blessing of the synod’s convener, Pope Francis — had pushed for an acknowledgment by the group of the “positive” aspects of same-sex relationships, cohabitation by unmarried heterosexual couples, and second marriages of church members who never obtained formal annulments from the church. The most pressing issue for many of the liberals was whether the church should show “mercy” toward the divorced and remarried by allowing them to receive holy communion at Mass, which the church currently forbids because it regards the bond of marriage as indissoluble and remarriage after divorce a grave sin.

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