Pope turns bishops' attention to family crises in Mideast

The bishops' meeting is discussing how to better minister to families facing issues big and small.

Vatican City: Pope Francis directed the attention of the world's bishops to real-world crises today by denouncing the escalation of conflicts in Syria and Iraq and urging greater diplomacy to end the "humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions."

Francis issued the appeal at Friday's meeting of some 270 bishops, Mideast prelates and patriarchs among them, who are in Rome for three weeks to hash out better ways to provide pastoral care to Catholic families.

"War brings destruction and multiplies the suffering of people," Francis said. "Hope and progress only come from choices of peace."

The bishops' meeting is discussing how to better minister to families facing issues big and small: those torn by divorce, raising gay children, or forced to flee war or poverty. The Vatican is particularly concerned about the flight of Christians from the Mideast, given it is the land of Christ's birth.

Today, participants presented their first amendments to the draft final document that will be presented to Francis at the end of the month. The recommendations were as varied as the prelates, but a few trends bore out in 13 different language reports.

Nearly all found the draft document's introductory chapters woefully negative and in need of a new language to inspire families rather than depress them with all that ails them and society at large.

The English groups were the most frank and critical, with one saying the document was flawed, "chaotic (and) without inherent logic." The Italians were more respectful to the Italian-headed drafters, tending to focus on the minutiae of their proposals. 

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