Since Oct 5, Pope Francis has been convening with his Synod of Bishops in Rome to discuss “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” The discussion includes 250 participants and continues until Oct 19, so far producing a report that discusses homosexuality and its place within the Catholic Church.
“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” the report reads. It goes on to ask, “Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?”
The synod is not expected to reach any conclusions but is meant to be a discussion of “the lived experiences of families today.” Instead of an exhortation, the synod will produce a report that will be sent to dioceses around the world in preparation for another synod year. Any changes to church practices in regard to marriage and family will not be in effect until next year.
“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,” the report continues.
But gays shouldn’t be saying hallelujah just yet. No real change has been initiated, and, so far, the discussion appears to be more about a corporation trying to figure out how to rebrand before going defunct than a spiritual institution believing in equality for all its followers. Even so, that hasn’t stopped rightwing conservatives from speaking out against it.
“What will Catholic parents now have to tell their children about contraception, cohabiting with partners or living homosexual lifestyles?” asks Maria Madise, coordinator of conservative Catholic group Voice of the Family. “This approach destroys grace in souls.”
Or, it will keep priests living in multimillion-dollar flats above a gay bathhouse for a few more years . . .