An Earthquake at the Vatican?

October 16, 2014 7:31 PM

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The world’s Roman Catholic bishops issued a report on Oct. 13 that contained little that was new in church teachings and is unlikely to affect policies soon. Yet it was variously described as a “pastoral earthquake” and heralding a “revolutionary change.”

What explains the stunned response? Partly, it’s a matter of tone: The report, from an assembly discussing the church’s teachings on family life, is suffused in the language of acceptance and mercy. In its approach to issues such as divorce, homosexuality, and contraception, it echoes the public sta...

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