Roman Catholic bishops have elected to soften the Catholic doctrine on divorce, those in favour winning by just one vote. Divorcees will now be allowed to take the sacrament of communion on a 'case by case' basis. This is a movement from the previous complete ban for divorcees and represents a significant shift in the view of the church. The synod, which was one of the most contentious to date, also discussed amending the doctrine on gay marriage. This was voted against, but even the fact that it was up for discussion demonstrates that the current Pope is taking a much more liberal stance on modern day relationships than his predecessors. This is positive and will be viewed by many Catholics as a step in the right direction.
By a single vote, the synod agreed to allow divorcees to take communion, from which they were previously banned, after consideration on a "case-by-case" basis. Catholic leaders including 270 bishops gathered in Rome had sat through more than 90 hours of debate and over 400 speeches over the last three weeks as they considered how to update guidelines for providing pastoral care to Catholic families. Pope Francis had raised expectations of change in previously hardline positions after initiating the thorny process of updating Catholic teachings two years ago. He had urged mercy and a transformation of the church into more of a “field hospital for wounded souls.”