The Pope gave an unscheduled speech on Tuesday urging synod fathers not to enter into a “hermeneutic of conspiracy” and defining such an approach as “sociologically weak and spiritually unhelpful.” 

However, synod fathers continue to have serious concerns about the instrumentum laboris which, for the first time, remains the main text for the synod for the bishops to work on. Also for the first time, changing paragraphs of the document requires passing a vote by a two-thirds majority instead of a vote on propositions at the end. This means that controversial paragraphs in the document, such as the Cardinal Kasper proposal that failed to achieve a two-thirds majority at the end of the last synod, appear to now require a two-thirds majority vote to amend them.

“The burden of proof now is on the side that wants to change it,” said a synod official. “So bishops are now trying to clarify that three controversial paragraphs that did not get the two-thirds majority now require a two-thirds majority just to change them.”

Participants are also concerned that these paragraphs that failed to achieve the required votes last time were retained in the final document of the extraordinary synod — a document that Pope Francis stressed this week is one of three “official documents” of the meeting.

The Pope has stressed that doctrine won’t be touched, but critics contend that Cardinal Kasper’s proposal will do just that, by contradicting two millennia of Church teaching on marriage.