Pope Francis, bishops begin landmark discussion on family

By: Meredith Francis ~Campus News Editor~

Pope Francis and an assembly of bishops released a preliminary document after meeting at the Vatican on Oct. 13, calling for the Catholic Church to welcome gay people, unmarried couples and divorced people, as well as the children of these “nontraditional” families.

The document, which was written by a committee of bishops picked by Pope Francis, will now be up for debate in a two-week meeting of bishops, called a synod, and may be subject to revision. The preliminary document does not, however, officially change church doctrine.

The 12-page document includes a discussion of cohabitation before marriage. The document says that, without disregarding official church teaching on the sacrament of marriage, churches should acknowledge that “there are positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation.”

The report also says that gay people have “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community,” and that gay couples offer “precious support in the life of the partners.”

Roughly 200 bishops were in attendance as the document was read aloud. After it was read, 41 bishops responded to the report, with some bishops objecting.

This report follows Pope Francis’s many comments in the past 18 months of his papacy, in which the Pontiff has made several remarks that signal a change in tone towards family issues.

In July 2013, when asked about gay people in the church, Pope Francis replied, “Who am I to judge?”