Pope gives bishops more decision-making options

800 (1)Source: Associated Press

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis decreed on Tuesday that ordinary Catholics should be consulted about issues facing the Catholic Church and that bishops gathering for periodic meetings can make binding decisions on church teaching.

Francis issued new rules reforming the Synod of Bishops, the consultative body established 50 years ago to give popes an organized way of bringing bishops together to debate problems facing the church.

In the past, synods have been talkfests by churchmen who made nonbinding proposals to the pope to consider in a future document. The new rules say the bishops’ final document becomes part of his official church teaching, or magisterium — but only if the pope approves it.

The pope can help guarantee the outcome another way, by appointing members of the synod secretariat, drafting committee as well as the synod itself, whose members are only required to come to a “moral unanimity” in voting for their final document, but no numerical threshold.

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