The recent Extraordinary Synod of Bishops garnered the attention of the media, but for the wrong reasons. The Catholic Church will not be discussing same-sex marriages as some reports have stated, and the topic of people who have divorced and remarried receiving Holy Communion needs more discernment.
Media was buzzing with reports that Pope Francis, who has surprised many by being welcoming to homosexuals in the Church, was open to discussing gay marriage at the gathering of world bishops, which took place Oct. 5-19, 2014, in Vatican City. The fact is those two hot button issues were discussed, even debated, but failed to pass a vote. Misperceptions by the media may be attributed to a mistranslation of the Italian-text midterm report.
The theme of the Extraordinary Synod, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” dealt with proclaiming the Gospel to the family of today in its many forms – including couples preparing for marriage, couples cohabitating, divorced, remarried and homosexual. The 183 bishops who gathered were encouraged by Pope Francis to speak their minds with freedom.
“The focus was, I think, on the standard traditional understanding of family as married people with kids. There are other ways of understanding family that go beyond that,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone. “The Holy Father’s instinct in calling the synod was, I think, in our world now, it’s challenging for a lot of people to live a full faithful, fruitful, happy married life and family life. The Church wants to know better, how do we strengthen our support of families.”
Bishop Malone did not attend the Synod and has not yet received any document regarding the outcome from the Vatican. He expects the Synod to be discussed at a November meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Zenit has printed a midterm report on its website. A three-paragraph section titled “Welcoming Homosexual Persons” asks more than it says. “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community,” the chapter starts. “Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they 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 section goes on to state, “The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman.” Reports have said that the final report, or Relatio Synodi, will differ greatly. read more...