|Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna|
ROME – In a move possibly hinting that Pope Francis will side with progressives on some contentious matters regarding family life, the Vatican announced Thursday that a keenly anticipated document from the pontiff will be released April 8 and presented by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria.
The document, technically known as an “apostolic exhortation,” is designed to draw conclusions from two tumultuous summits of Catholic bishops from around the world, called “synods,” on issues pertaining to the family held in October 2014 and October 2015.
Carrying the Latin title Amoris Laetitia, subtitled “On Love in the Family,” the document will be presented in an April 8 Vatican news conference featuring Schönborn and Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the synod secretary, along with two Italian academics.
Although the Vatican did not release details about the document’s contents on Thursday, in broad strokes it’s expected to echo areas of wide agreement among the bishops during those summits, such as the need for more thorough programs of marriage preparation and the importance of supporting families trying to live the Church’s vision of married life.
However, the synods also exposed clear divisions among the bishops on three key issues:
During the two synods, Schönborn was seen as a leading exponent of the moderate-to-progressive position on those issues.
Whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics ought to be able to return to Communion under some circumstances.
Whether the Church needs more tolerant language to talk about gay and lesbian relationships, without altering the substance of its teaching.
Whether the Church can acknowledge positive moral values even in “irregular” relationships, such as living together outside of marriage.