Catholic synod: Vatican family review signals shift on homosexuality

Senior clerics taking part in a
review of Catholic teachings on
the family have called on the
Church to adopt a more
positive stance on
homosexuality.
A preliminary report written by
bishops during a Vatican synod
said homosexuals had “gifts and
qualities to offer”.
The report does not challenge
the Church’s long-held
opposition to same-sex
marriage, but some gay rights
groups hailed it as a
breakthrough.
Conservative groups rejected the
report, one labelling it a
“betrayal”.
More than 200 bishops have
been taking part in the synod
since 5 October. It was
convened by Pope Francis to
debate controversial issues such
as abortion, contraception,
homosexuality and divorce.
Monday’s report, issued half-way
through the two-week meeting,
said: “Homosexuals have gifts
and qualities to offer to the
Christian community.
“Are we capable of welcoming
these people, guaranteeing to
them a fraternal space in our
communities?”
Analysis: David Willey, BBC News,
Rome
Pope Francis’ emphasis on
concentrating upon positive
rather than negative aspects of
human sexuality seems to have
won over many bishops
attending the synod.
His predecessor Pope Benedict
referred to homosexual
relationships as “intrinsically
disordered” in a Vatican
document written in 1986 –
when Benedict was chief
theological adviser to Pope John
Paul II.
Pope Francis on the other hand
told journalists returning from a
Catholic Youth Festival in Rio de
Janeiro last year: “If a person
seeks God and has goodwill,
then who am I to judge?”
Pope Francis is the first pontiff
ever to have used the word
“gay” in public rather than refer
to “homosexuals”.
Pope Francis was elected to
lead the Church in 2013 after
his predecessor Benedict XI
retired
Breakthrough or betrayal?
The document adds: “Without
denying the moral problems
connected to homosexual
unions, it has to be noted that
there are cases in which mutual
aid to the point of sacrifice
constitutes a precious support
in the life of the partners.”
Human Rights Campaign, a
leading US gay rights
organisation, said the document
set a “dramatic new tone”.
The London-based Catholic gay
rights groups Quest called parts
of it a “breakthrough”.
However Voice Of The Family, a
conservative Roman Catholic
organisation, rejected the
interim report as a “betrayal”.
The group’s co-founder John
Smeaton called it “one of the
worst official documents drafted
in Church history”.
Last year, a survey launched by
Pope Francis suggested that the
majority of Catholics rejected
Church teaching on issues such
as sex and contraception.
Are you a catholic? What is
your reaction to the issue
raised in this story?

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