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Some prelates seek to row back on synod document

By Sarah Mac Donald - 15 October, 2014

synod2Differences have emerged amongst prelates attending the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome over Monday’s interim post-discussion report.

The relatio post disceptationem called on Catholic pastors to recognise the positive elements of all family situations, including those at odds with Church teaching.

The Vatican document, which adopts a softer tone on homosexuality, advocating a more pastoral approach, surprised many within the church and wider society.

The document was praised for conveying the Church’s love for those who are suffering in difficult pastoral situations.

However, on Tuesday some high profile prelates complained that the interim report did not accurately represent the thoughts of the Synod fathers.

The Vatican’s press office underlined that the relatio was not an authoritative statement but a working document for discussion during the second week of Synod deliberations.

Cardinal Raymond Burke claimed the relatio “advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept.”

The American prelate said “a great number of the Synod fathers found it objectionable.”

One of the document’s 58 sections is titled, ‘Welcoming homosexual persons.’ In it, the Synod’s participants say the Church must welcome gay people who have “gifts and qualities” to offer the church.

“Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing them a fraternal space in our communities?” it asks.

“Often they [gay people] 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 report challenges.

Responding to the document, Nuala Ward of AMACH! in Galway said she thought, “A lot of LGBT people will be very surprised” by the tone and some of the comments.

“Many LGBT people are very religious and attend Mass. I would say they would be very happy to read this – it is very encouraging with good sounding open statements.”

“I really hope to see these statements being put into action. That would be incredible,” she said. However, she added that while LGBT people would be “delighted” to read these statements she also thought they would be “very cautious.”

David Quinn, Director of the pro marriage Iona Institute, underlined that the “Church’s stance on the nature of marriage hasn’t changed and that it would be a mistake to think it has.”

Petra Conroy of Catholic Comment said the interim document demonstrated the importance of mercy and truth in the pastoral care of the family in the real-life and challenging situations today.

She said that the document doesn’t contain any definitive decisions on the church’s values on marriage, sexuality and families.

She added, “It is not new for the Church to see the dignity of every person and to value that. Of course homosexual people have gifts and qualities and like all of us, are challenged to bring those on the journey to better understanding and living out of the path Jesus calls each of us to.”

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