BBC/Catholic synod: Pope Francis suffers setback on gays

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SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) – Pope Francis has suffered a setback as proposals for wider acceptance of gay people failed to win a two-thirds majority at a Catholic Church synod.

A draft issued half-way through the meeting of senior clerics had called for greater openness towards homosexuals, and divorced Catholics who have remarried.

But those paragraphs were not approved, and were stripped from the final text.

All other parts of the draft report were accepted by the synod.

The Pope said the full draft document, including the rejected paragraphs, should nonetheless be published.

Correspondents say the text welcoming gay people and remarried Catholics had been watered down in the final version that was voted on – but it appears that they still met with resistance from conservatives.

‘Let God surprise’

Speaking after the vote, Pope Francis told attendees that 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”, AP news agency reported.

He also cautioned against “hostile rigidity, that is the willingness to close oneself inside the written word instead of letting God surprise us”.

While the earlier draft had said that homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”, the revised document only said that discrimination against gay people “is to be avoided”.

The two-week Vatican synod has revealed a fracture line in church opinion over how to adapt traditional church teaching on human sexuality towards 21st-Century attitudes, says the BBC’s David Willey in Rome.

Pope Francis had made a powerful appeal to traditionalists not to lock themselves within the letter of the law, but conservative cardinals and bishops carried the day at the end of the synod, our correspondent adds.

About 200 bishops had attended the synod on family issues at the Vatican.

The New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay-rights group, said it was “very disappointing that the synod’s final report did not retain the gracious welcome to lesbian and gay people that the draft of the report included”.

‘New language needed’

Christopher Lamb, from British Catholic journal The Tablet, told the BBC that the discussion at the synod was “a huge achievement in itself”.

He said it was important to remember that many of the bishops at the synod were from countries where homosexuality is illegal.

“We have now got an acceptance that we need a new language in the Church when talking about gay couples and homosexuality in general,” he added.

Conservative groups had described the earlier draft as a “betrayal”.

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa told Vatican radio on Friday that “there were two issues that got people ‘hot around the collar’. One was presenting homosexual unions as if they were a very positive thing.”

The second issue related to broken marriages “and the fact that people should be facilitated to get access to the sacraments”, he added.

The published report will form the basis for further discussions in Rome in one year’s time.

www.shafaqna.com/English

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