Monday, November 3, 2014

The Catholic Synod of Bishops said what!!??

Much has been said in the United States news media about the recent document released by the Synod on the Family especially on the topic of persons in homosexual relationships. Some early reports were clearly mistranslated by many in the media when reports came out on CNN and other cable news networks claiming the Catholic Church was moving toward the acceptance of same-sex unions. This was scaled back somewhat by official reports from the Vatican but the true intention of the Synod was still not being accurately reported. Furthermore, many "traditionalists" or "conservatives" in the Church reacted severely when the initial reports were made public.
The "final document" of the Synod has been released and the tone of the document is much different than the early media stories. There are two paragraphs in this final version (three in the draft report) regarding the topic of same-sex unions. Here they are:

55.       Some families have members who have a homosexual tendency. In this regard, the synod fathers asked themselves what pastoral attention might be appropriate for them in accordance with the Church’s teaching: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family.”Nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” )Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4
56.        Exerting pressure in this regard on the Pastors of the Church is totally unacceptable: this is equally so for international organizations who link their financial assistance to poorer countries with the introduction of laws which establish “marriage” between persons of the same sex.

As you can see, there is no evidence here that the Catholic Church is changing its doctrines on homosexual issues. However, the Church is indeed changing its approach to persons with same-sex attractions. The emphasis is shifting from a severe outlook that tended to summarily dismiss or reject gays to a stronger push toward understanding and welcoming and finding ways to minister to homosexuals and involve them and their individual gifts in parish life. 
And so, the Synod did not go far enough for some who were expecting/hoping the Church to change its teaching on homosexual matters and it went too far for some who are more traditional or conservative in their outlook.
In truth, no one should be looking for the Church to change any doctrine regardless of the topic. The Church has NEVER done that. But what you can expect is a more open armed attitude and approach to all persons in difficult pastoral situations (divorced & remarried, homosexual, single parent, etc.). This openness truly begins at the grassroots level with you and me being Jesus to each and every person we meet each and every day. (You can read the entire document by clicking here.)


  1. Thank you for posting this, Deacon. I just came from the office a bit ago and one of my co-workers asked what was going on with our Pope and why were people so upset with him? I clarified that some ultra-conservative Catholics were upset with him because he is choosing to take a more open approach to the hot topics of homosexuality, gay marriage, divorce, etc. Pope Francis has not changed any doctrine or canon law and I doubt he ever will. He has merely chosen to take a less judgmental approach to these issues, which appears to have upset those who wish to pound our beliefs down the throats of those whom are deemed to be unworthy or sinful. Does this sound familiar? Doesn’t this sound similar to the approach taken by the Sadducees and the Pharisees? Jesus ate with prostitutes and sinners. He challenged those without sin to cast the first stone. He commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to treat others as we want to be treated. Organized religions are viewed as bullies and quite often rightfully so. If we aren’t living our faith but merely offering lip service and judgment, then their opinion is accurate. I have been struggling with this issue for quite some time. How can we claim to be Christians yet judge others? It is very perplexing. Love the sinner but hate the sin. Isn’t that supposed to be our approach? Pope Francis upset the apple cart by not utilizing the traditional papal extravagances and luxuries. He has chosen to live his faith, walk among the people, and be accessible to his flock – exactly what he has done his entire life. He has threatened the comfort and status quo of what others in the hierarchy have become accustomed to. We cannot shove our beliefs down the throats or in the face of others without defenses going up. The Holy Father is interested in breaking down those walls and approaching those with love and welcoming arms. How can we fault him for actually living as Jesus wants us to live? We can have open dialogue about difficult topics if defenses are down, and sometimes we just have to agree to disagree and pray for one another.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. The challenge for all of us in the Church is to figure out how to be open and welcoming without contradicting Church teaching. Sounds like a good thing for us to offer up to God in prayer.

  2. Dear Lisa very well said thank you for the post.