Pope Francis has decided to convene an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops next year to discuss issues surrounding the family, which the Vatican believes is under attack by secularist trends, report The Tablet and CNS.
The Tablet says Vatican announced yesterday that the Synod gathering will take place in October 2014 under the theme: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation.
The announcement comes less than a week after the 76-year-old Pope held three days of inaugural meetings with his eight-member Council of Cardinals, a group he has assembled to advise him on governing the universal Church and reforming the Roman Curia.
During the October 1-3 meeting he and the council discussed the need to strengthen the process of synodality and the possibility of holding the next Synod on the family.
The Catholic News Service reports that the Pope had told reporters accompanying him on his plane back from Rio de Janeiro in July that the next synod would explore a 'somewhat deeper pastoral care of marriage,' including the question of the eligibility of divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, said last week that Francis was interested in looking at the 'anthropological theme' that dealt with 'the human person and the family in the light of the Gospel,' reports The Tablet.
Today's announcement of the Synod on the family - only third time that an extraordinary gathering is be held since the Synod of Bishops began meeting in 1967 - came as the permanent council of the Synod finished two days of regular meetings.