A leading conservative member of the Vatican administration has accused the organisers of the Synod on the Catholic Family of advancing positions which many of the 193 bishops in attendance do not and cannot accept.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American who runs the Vatican's High Court, said the immediate response to yesterday's interim document - which softened the Church's language on gays, contraception and divorced and civilly remarried people - showed that "a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable".
In an interview with Catholic World Report, Cardinal Burke said the document "lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church) and gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one member of the Synod called ‘revolutionary’, teaching on marriage and the family".
He said it invokes, repeatedly and in a confused manner, principles which are not defined.
Asked how important it is that Pope Francis make a statement soon in order to address the growing sense that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points, Cardinal Burke said that, in his judgement, "such a statement is long overdue".
He said the debate on questions like "remarriage", receiving Communion, and the place of homosexual unions has been running for almost nine months, and that the liberal German Cardinal Walter Kasper - and others who support his position - had been making speeches and giving interviews.
He said "the faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ (Pope Francis) for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage, which is the first cell of the life of the Church".
Cardinal Burke also accused the General Secretariat of the Synod of clearly favouring, from the beginning of the Synod nine days ago, the positions expressed in the yesterday's discussion document, the Relatio post disceptationem.
He complained that "while the individual interventions of the Synod Fathers (voting bishops) are not published, yesterday's Relatio, which is merely a discussion document, was published immediately and … even broadcast live. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church."
The conservative Voice of the Family organisation has welcomed Cardinal Burke's criticism of what it calls "Pope Francis's silence on Catholic teaching".
In a statement issued from Rome its co-founder John Smeaton asked why "in view of the scandalous worldwide impact of this Synod on Catholic families ... it has not been brought to an immediate end and the organisers dismissed?"
Mr Smeaton said the organisation has been approached at its Rome headquarters by various participants in the Synod, including Synod Fathers and lay participants, telling them that entirely misleading reports of the Synod's proceedings are being published by the Vatican organisers.
"They say it's unjust and that something is wrong," said Mr Smeaton adding "the Synod participants are particularly angry about Archbishop Bruno Forte's - the Synod's Special Secretary's - comment about homosexuals' right to civil unions and about the implication in the mid-term report, or Relatio, that birth control is up to the conscience of individual."