South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier said the synod's relatio has put the prelates in "a position that is virtually irredeemable."
"This morning in the free discussion, some of the synod fathers and participants said openly that they felt the spirit of Vatican II very much."
Analysis: Listening, respecting, welcoming, dialogue are words repeated throughout the Synod of Bishops' new document. Condemnation and marginalization are nowhere to be found.
The document the synod released Monday acknowledges that the strict application of church doctrine is no longer enough to support people seeking God.
Irish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says the synod on the family "has to find new language to show that there can be development of doctrine."
Both Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich are campaigning for a new look at marriage and the family at the ongoing synod in Rome.
Gathered with Pope Francis, members of the Synod of Bishops on the family issued a message of solidarity, support and prayers for all families suffering the impact of war and violence, especially in Iraq and Syria.
The members prayed particularly for those who, "because of the Christian faith they profess or because they belong to other ethnic or religious communities, have been forced to abandon everything and flee toward a future that lacks any kind of certainty."
The Vatican published the message Friday, in the middle of the Oct. 5-19 synod.
Senior Catholic leaders have repeatedly stressed that they are not going to alter long-standing doctrines. Does that mean hope for real change is DOA?
Catholic couples who ignore church teaching on contraception "don't know what they are missing," said a U.S. couple invited to address the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.
A married couple from Brazil told Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops that the church should stop giving "contradictory advice" on birth control and help Catholics obey church teaching against contraception.
On the same morning, one of the synod's leaders spoke forcefully against a widespread "contraceptive mentality" that has led many Catholics to think the use of artificial birth control is not a sin.