Catholic 'Welcome' To Gays Nixed At Synod

Progressives in the Catholic Church suffered a setback when the synod of bishops failed to agree on a message of openness to gays.
Posted at 8:41 AM, Oct 19, 2014

The Vatican had signaled a historic change could be coming in the way Catholic Church viewed gay people. But after a week of intense debate, no such breakthrough. 

The nearly 200 or so bishops who attended a two-week meeting, otherwise known as a synod, backtracked on this draft document the Vatican released Monday. 

In it, a section titled, “welcoming homosexual persons” stated “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.”

And while that did not suggest any change in Church doctrine on gay marriage, Vatican observers interpreted the language to represent a pretty remarkable shift in tone.

On Saturday, the bishops scrapped that language In favor of watered down wording. The section was renamed, “pastoral attention to people of homosexual orientation” and the part about gay people having gifts and qualities was taken out.

But even that version fell short of the two thirds majority it needed to pass, with 118 bishops voting for and 62 voting against the text. (Video via The Vatican

Since the names weren’t released, we can't say for sure whether the text failed to pass because progressives didn’t think it went far enough or if because conservatives thought it went too far. 

Though the pushback we heardfrom hardline bishops earlier in the week suggests the latter. 

Either way, the final report comes as a major blow to progressives who hoped they’d see a change in the church’s position on gay issues.

Catholic LGBT group DignityUSA said it was disappointed "doctrine won out over pastoral need."

Then again, the fact that these issues were even discussed is significant in itself.  

Here's how John Thavis of Decoding the Vatican put it, “However the synod’s results are characterized, it’s clear the landscape has changed. Pope Francis has pointed the church in a new direction, and the bishops have taken the first cautious steps down that path.”


The synod also failed to reach a consensus on another controversial proposal that would have allowed divorced Catholics to receive Communion. That subject will be up for discussion when the bishops reconvene in Rome a year from now.