Papal synod on family concludes

Preliminary meeting of bishops does not reach conclusive decision on church teaching

By: Richard Meyer ~Copy Editor~

Pope Francis concluded a summit of bishops in the Vatican on Oct. 19 called the Synod on the Family, beginning a discussion on the Catholic Church’s idea of family.

Over the course of the two-week period, over 200 bishops attended the synod which met to open a dialogue, calling the Catholic Church to accept gay people, divorced people, as well as unmarried couples and children of nontraditional families.

A committee of bishops who were chosen by Pope Francis produced a document which outlined these topics.

An interim version of the document, which was released halfway through the synod, stated that gay people have “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community” as well as claiming that the “precious support” of homosexual partners should not be discounted.

The document also stated that churches should acknowledge that “there are positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation,” and should also welcome the children of these nontraditional familes.

However, after discussing the document throughout the remainder of the summit, it was amended and by the end said what has been called a “watered-down” version of the original statements. The revised section stated that “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy.”

The parts of the document that addressed the nontraditional families could not gain acceptance by way of a two-thirds vote.

The Church will continue to study the issue of cohabitation, divorce and remarried Catholics and whether or not they should be able to receive Communion. No decision was made in this preliminary synod.

“Unfortunately … doctrine won out over pastoral need,” DignityUSA said in a statement regarding the decision made at the Synod. “It is disappointing that those who recognized the need for a more inclusive Church were defeated.”

This year’s synod was a preliminary gathering of bishops, leading up to the Ordinary Synod of the Family, which will take place in October 2015 where the same questions will be addressed with more bishops involved.