Vatican synod holds its line on gay couples but offers new hope to Catholic divorcees

Bishops confirm Catholic teaching on the ‘intrinsic disorder’ of homosexuality

The Observer, By Rosie Scammell, October 24

After a three-week marathon of Vatican talks on family issues, Roman Catholic bishops voted on a summary document which decided against overhauling the church’s teaching on gay Catholics but paved the way for greater openness towards divorcees.

Pope Francis described the Vatican summit as a way to “open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints”.

“Surely it was not about finding exhaustive solutions for all the difficulties and uncertainties which challenge and threaten the family,” the pontiff said, “but rather about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.”

A push for more welcoming language was evident, but the final text was by no means a triumph for progressives. Although bishops agreed that people should be treated with respect “independently of their own sexual tendency”, the reference to gay Catholics was viewed in terms of “accompanying the families in which people with homosexual tendencies live”, rather than accepting same-sex relationships.


There was, however, a greater openness towards Catholics who divorce and remarry outside the church, who under Vatican teachings are excluded from receiving communion. Bishops agreed divorcees must be “more integrated in Christian communities”.


The statements on remarried Catholics, however, lacked specificity, reflecting the difficulty of reaching consensus among the bishops, who voted paragraph-by-paragraph on a text that on Friday received 1,355 suggested changes. Despite opposing opinions, many of the 270 participating bishops said there was a greater sense of open dialogue at this synod, coming a year after bishops had first met to discuss family issues.

[…because these days, there are too many of them to let go]

New York Times: Amid Splits, Catholic Bishops Crack Open Door on Divorce
Washington Post: Vatican synod on families offers hope to divorced Catholics
Washington Post: Pope rebukes Catholic elders at closing of synod on family
WSJ: Bishops Hand Pope Defeat on His Outreach to Divorced Catholics [Subscription Required].

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