October 21st, 2014
After a two week long meeting at the Vatican aimed at improving outreach to modern families, the Catholic Church released a document Saturday that drastically revised previous phrasing on homosexuals and divorced families.
Pope Francis had convened over 200 bishops in a special assembly, known as a synod, to debate how the church viewed diverse families, including single mothers, gay couples, divorced and remarried couples. The draft of a “relation” was delivered at the end of the congregation.
An initial draft, released October 13, included a three-paragraph section at the end entitled “Welcoming homosexual persons.” The early writing detailed how the Church should be “accepting and valuing their (homosexuals’) sexual orientations” and that gays have “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community.”
Conservative bishops expressed alarm to the first draft; the text released to the public on Saturday renamed the section “Providing for homosexual persons,” and changed references to same-sex “partners” to “these people.”
The updated version also states that the Church must meet gays with “respect and sensitivity,” but ultimately emphasizes there is no comparison between the marriage between man and woman to a same-sex union.
“In seeking to be merciful, some want to open up Catholic teaching on marriage, divorce, civil unions, homosexuality in a radically liberalizing direction,” said conservative Cardinal George Pell, as reported by the New York Times. “We’re not giving in to the secular agenda.”
While the synod’s writing is not a final decision, it assisted in opening debate within the Church, as Francis had aimed. The majority of bishops approved the initial draft, but a vote of two-thirds is mandatory for the assembly’s agreement.
Francis published the report revealing the vote tallies on each section, so to be transparent to readers.
The next synod will be held in October 2015 when a final relation will be issued.
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