Pope Francis recently convened a synod, which is now in it's second week, for the purpose of discussing various issues related to the theme of family and marriage. The topics of homosexuals and same sex couples were brought up in a much different light under the guidance of Pope Francis than what has been seen from previous popes.
The 200 bishops assembled for the synod focused on various issues regarding the family and marriage, under the direction of Pope Francis. The related Vatican statement has raised questions regarding the church's attitude towards, and relationship with, homosexuals and same sex couples in the community. The synod is expected to prepare a document of the final conclusions on the matters at hand for Pope Francis by the end of the week. So far, the synod is said to reflect the more compassionate, inclusive direction that Pope Francis has been trying to steer the Catholic church.
Pope Francis has encouraged members of the church to rethink how they have approached the issue, and it seems that they may be listening. Statements from the bishops meeting so far have asked if there is a way for the Catholic church to be more open to the many "gifts" that those in the gay community have to offer, without undermining the long held traditions and Biblical views of the Catholic church. The Vatican statement echoes ones that Pope Francis has made in the past.
"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge."
The Vatican Document being endorsed, known as Relatio Post Disceptationem, still confirms the church's stance that homosexuality as a sin according to God's word, that divorce and remarriage is still not within the Divine will, and shows no signs of changing these official doctrines. However, Pope Francis has encouraged a change in the ways in which the church's doctrines are applied. The interactions and dialogues between the gay community and the Catholic church could be shifting under the leadership of Pope Francis. Even if this does not signal a policy change that Pope Francis will institute in the church, it is being called an "earthquake" in Vatican thought. While the document makes it clear that the church can not accept or support gay marriage, it does ask the bishops to consider ways of welcoming gay families and addressing their needs in accordance to Catholic tradition. Pope Francis has urged for the Catholic community to reach out in a less judgmental and more welcoming manner.
Pope Francis has taken a lot of interest in the needs of families of all types, especially those most affected by poverty, something that Pope Francis has spoken most passionately about, even taking his name after Saint Francis of Assisi because of his great concern for the poor.
While Pope Francis has seen a lot of popularity among the secular community, not everyone within the Catholic church is a fan of the Pope. Some have been critical of Pope Francis' ability to inspire support from the higher leaders of the church, and many are questioning whether or not Pope Francis lacks the leadership ability to actually create any real change in the church, especially if this Pope attempts to change any core Biblical doctrines on which the church has been standing firm for so long. Nonetheless, Pope Francis has already made great strides in opening new dialogues and inspiring church leaders to take a more direct role in addressing the challenges of our modern world.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]