The Vatican may finally be moving toward a more contemporary understanding of what a “family” is and, as a result, toward more compassion toward LGBT citizens throughout the world. A preliminary report from the current synod of bishops being held to discuss Catholicism’s approach to family is calling for more acceptance of gays, unmarried couples, those who have divorced or are cohabiting — and even toward cultures such as in Africa where polygamy is still common.
A 12-page report contains three paragraphs that particularly apply to and seem to shift the tone of the Church toward lesbians and gay men. Will the tone remain once it has been debated by the bishops? That’s hard to tell since the church of Pope Francis is torn between those who want to maintain the traditional doctrinal hostility toward LGBT folks and those who want to move toward a more pastoral stance of supporting all of us. Even the three paragraphs reflect this, the first and last being more supportive than the second:
“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? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”
“The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
“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. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.”