A meeting of Catholic clergy in Vatican City over the past two weeks has ended without a consensus on acceptance of homosexuality. A draft released last week of the report on the meeting on family issues contained contentious language at bishops have spent the week walking back.
According to the BBC, “While the earlier draft had said that homosexuals had ‘gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community’, the revised document only said that discrimination against gay people ‘is to be avoided’.” Paragraphs need a two-thirds majority to be included in the final report.
Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community… Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
The Church affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman.
The Church teaches: “No grounds whatsoever exist for assimilating or drawing analogies, however remote, between homosexual unions and God’s design for matrimony and the family.” Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies should be accepted with respect and sensitivity. “Any sign of unjust discrimination in their regard is to be avoided.”
While the bishops debated the degree of acceptance that homosexuals should receive from the Catholic Church, Pope Francis indicated that the existence of a debate at all is a sign of progress. The Associated Press reports that in a speech to the gathering after the vote, the pope said, “Personally I would have been very worried and saddened if there hadn’t been these … animated discussions … or if everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace.”
The past week, The Washington Post notes, has been spent walking back some of the more tolerant language released in a draft summary this past Monday. Conservative bishops were angry about the severity of the draft; their criticisms have characterized the document as “dangerous betrayal and potentially heretical.”
In his homily today, via the AP, Pope Francis said “God is not afraid of new things! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways.” He also beatified Pope Paul VI, who implemented a number of substantial reforms and led the Church for the majority of the 1960s, the decade when everyone finally started to admit that having sex was cool.
The clergy are expected to reconvene a year from now to further discuss matters.
[Photo Credit: AP Images]