The faithful hold candles during a vigil, led by Pope Francis, to mark the opening of the Synod on the family in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican October 4, 2014 (Reuters / Tony Gentile)
The Catholic Church, which previously condemned homosexuality as “intrinsically disordered,” is considering embracing homosexual believers, as well as partially accepting same-sex, and other religiously unsanctioned partnerships.
“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a further space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home,” it said in a “relatio,” a document released at the half-way point of the Synod, a two-week discussion of Catholicism and personal relationships at the Vatican, attended by 200 senior bishops.
“Are our communities capable of proving that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”
The Synod, which has been attended by Pope Francis, has also recognized the validity of gay relationships, though it stopped far short of equating them to marriage.
“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,” said the relatio, which is a preliminary discussion draft that will likely form the basis of the final address, to be issued after the closed-door Synod wraps up.
While homosexual desires are not considered inherently sinful by the Vatican, gay sex is. Yet, Pope Francis already signaled a potentially less condemnatory stance last year, famously saying, “Who am I to judge?” when questioned about celibate gay men becoming priests. In a last-minute move, the pontiff personally introduced several of his theological allies into the relatio drafting committee last week.
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