The Vatican recently went into a two-week synod to discuss family life. A draft report issued halfway through the meeting had called for greater openness towards homosexuals and divorced Catholics who have remarried. However, when the vote took place, Pope Francis did not get the 2/3rds approval he needed to pass the initiative.
The paragraphs in the text that spoke specifically to homosexuals and divorced Catholics were stripped from the final text. Fox News reports that Francis’ gesture, and his words inside the synod hall, caused a four-minute standing ovation. Francis said that bishops had become overly wed to doctrine and were guided by “hostile rigidity,” as well as that those bishops showed a “destructive goody-goodiness.” This indicated that he was well aware of the divisions the debate had sparked and wanted to make his stance clear.
Over the past week, the bishops split themselves up into working groups to draft amendments to the text. They were nearly unanimous in insisting that church doctrine on family life be more fully asserted and that faithful Catholic families should be held up as models and encouraged rather than focus on family problems and “irregular” unions. However, Pope Francis made sure to point out numerous times in the synod that he did not wish to change doctrine, but rather change the church’s tone from condemnation to one of support.
The BBC notes that Pope Francis was not upset by the failure of these paragraphs to pass, but rather he would have been “worried and saddened” if there had not been “animated discussions” or if “everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace.” In other words, Pope Francis appreciates the open honesty of the bishops present. He realizes that such a great shift in the handling of certain areas of the church requires a thorough review and agreement among the bishops.
The synod will reconvene again in a year with more bishops present. The issues will be brought up for vote again at that time.
Pope Francis noted during the synod that he was hoping to apply the “law of gradualness” to the church in order to more thoroughly reach and convert the masses. He feels that each family should work on “one sin at a time” and move forward from there. This means that accepting divorced and homosexual couples into the church and allowing them to gradually work out their sins.
What do you think? Is Pope Francis too progressive for the Catholic Church, or is the fact the issue was even presented in a synod a sign of shifting ideas of acceptance in the church?