When it comes to the Roman Catholic Church, it seems “nuance” is the word of the day.
Reuters is reporting that the Vatican published a working paper for a major upcoming meeting focused on family issues reiterating the Church’s stance on various social issues, such as divorce and same-sex marriage. LGBT activists had hoped that the upcoming synod, or gathering of world bishops, would make efforts to adopt a friendlier stance toward same-sex couples, but the working document indicates no such softening of the Church’s position. A report released halfway through a preparatory meeting last October included statements by several bishops that were more conciliatory towards welcoming homosexuals into the community, but the “friendlier” language has since been eliminated after conservative hard-liners objected.
The working document reiterates that homosexuals should be respected and welcomed into the Church, in accordance with Church teaching, but should not be permitted to take part in sacraments unless they abstain from their sexual desires or attractions. The document also states that the Church should acknowledge that same-sex couples have offered “mutual aid” and “precious support” for each other in times of difficulty. However, the document clearly reiterates the Church’s opposition to both same-sex marriage and adoption of children by same-sex couples.
Reuters quotes the synod’s secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte, as saying that bishops will not be prohibited from raising any topic at the meeting. Based on Church teaching and the resulting discussion, the synod will produce a document for Pope Francis, who has the final say on issues of Church doctrine. He will then write an “Apostolic Exhortation” outlining the Church’s official stance on these various issues.
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