Conservative bishops in the Roman Catholic church voted against language that had been “hailed as a historic warming of attitudes towards gay people” according to The Guardian.
In the final report of an extraordinary synod on the family which has exposed deep divides in the church hierarchy, there is no mention – as there had been in a draft version – of the “gifts and qualities” gay people can offer. Nor is there any recognition of the “precious support” same-sex partners can give each other.
A paragraph entitled “pastoral attention to people of homosexual orientation” – itself a distinctly cooler tone than “welcoming homosexual persons” – refers to church teaching, saying there can be “not even a remote” comparison between gay unions and heterosexual marriage.
“Nevertheless,” it adds, “men and women of homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and sensitivity.” They should not suffer from discrimination, it adds. But the shift in tone is clear. And, in a potentially stark sign of the discomfort provoked among many bishop, even this watered-down passage failed to pass the two-thirds majority needed for it to be approved. — The Guardian.
Here are some of my thoughts.
- Better to do nothing than release something half-baked or watered down. And I mean that both ways. If the Church decides to go all in and not support “The Gays” then by all means don’t try to sugar coat it with ambiguous lukewarm statements and double speak.
- This is the first extraordinary Synod in almost three decades. While we don’t know how the individual bishops voted, we do know the count. This is because Pope Francis wanted the process to be as transparent as possible while still maintaining the confidentiality of individual bishop votes. Encouraging the bishops to speak their minds Pope Francis has embraced a radically more collegiate style of church governance than has been seen for decades. The man definitely practices what he preaches.
- It is possible the veto occurred because some progressive bishops wanted to preserve the original suggested language. This sounds like wishful thinking but it isn’t unprecedented. Back in the early 2000s a conservative group lobbied against an anti-abortion bill because it wasn’t restrictive enough in their eyes.
- Pope Francis: classy as ever. Not showing any disappointment at the outcome of the vote, He said “Personally I would have been very worried and saddened if there hadn’t been these … animated discussions … if everyone had agreed with one another or had kept silent in a false and acquiescent peace,” The Guardian.
- Don’t forget the Divorced and Remarried. One of the other items on the plate was Catholics who have divorced and remarried should be allowed to take holy communion. – that issue also failed to gather the necessary two-thirds majority.
So is this a loss for Pope Francis? Not by a long shot. Ever since his election last March, The Pope has time and again made clear his belief that the church needs to shift its focus, become more inclusive, and develop a better understanding of people’s lives in modern times in order to survive, let alone thrive. By calling this synod and implementing its level of transparency, the Pope is forcing the issue sooner than later of what direction the Church wants to go. Does it continue to live in the past or does it get with the program and adapt to modern times.
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