Synod document signals dramatic shift on gay people

A Vatican document released at the halfway point of the synod on the family shows a dramatic shift in the Church’s language about homosexual people.

The relatio post disceptationem is a summary of the discussions held at the synod so far.

It was read out in the presence of Pope Francis and the synod delegates on Monday morning.

It stated the Church should challenge itself to find a “fraternal space” for homosexuals without compromising Catholic doctrine on family and marriage.

The document also noted that gay Catholics’ orientation should be valued and that they have “gifts and qualities” to offer parishes.

While there are “moral problems” with homosexual unions, “there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners”.

But the text noted that same-sex marriage cannot be considered to be on the same footing as marriage between a man and a woman.

Senior Vatican commentator John Thavis called the document “an earthquake” in the Church’s attitude towards gay people.

“The document clearly reflects Pope Francis’ desire to adopt a more merciful pastoral approach on marriage and family issues,” he said.

The text called for the Church to recognise the “seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries” to cohabiting couples, civil marriages and to Catholics who are divorced and remarried.

It acknowledged disagreements between synod members over Communion for divorced and civilly remarried people and called for greater study of the issue.

Through the rest of this week the synod members are to meet in small groups, divided by language, to discuss and edit this document with a view to creating a final document for the synod for submission to Francis.

That final document is expected to be released to the public and to be used as a type of blue-print for another synod in 2015, which will deliver a final report to the Pope.

Pope Francis made several last minute appointments to the group that prepared the half-way document.


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