Religion: At the Synod, Variety in Unity

The bishops' meeting balances spiritual and secular themes

Over the past year an intensive debate about secularization has raged within the ranks of Roman Catholicism. Liberals say the church should plunge more deeply into social problems; conservatives contend such involvement has already gone too far. Late last week Pope John Paul, summing up an extraordinary synod of bishops in a modern Vatican meeting hall, called for a careful balance of both views. The church is the "mystical body of Christ," he said, thus emphasizing its spiritual quality, but it is simultaneously "at the service of the world."

This moderate approach also ran through a "Message to the People of...

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