The Catholic Church Might be Reconsidering Divorce

A new document released by the Vatican seems to be calling for the church to change its current stance on divorce, gay people, and unmarried couples, as well as the children of these less “traditional” families.

12-Page Preliminary Report

While the preliminary 12-page report, written by a committee of those hand-picked by the pope, will not alter Roman Catholic doctrine or teaching, it does mark a change towards understanding and mercy, and one that falls in line with Pope Francis’ papacy. The report will now be subject to debate and revision at the assembly of 200 Catholic bishops, also called the synod.

The report goes on to say that without abandoning current church teachings regarding the sacrament of marriage, pastor should recognize there are “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation.” That marks a large departure from traditional Catholic feelings that such couples “live in sin.”

Responses and Objections

The reading of the document was followed by responses and objections from 41 of the gathered bishops, those who seem to be in alignment with Francis’ vision, and those whole feel the church is running the risk of betraying traditional doctrines regarding marriage and homosexuality.

The synod’s special secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte said that though the church doesn’t condone gay unions or gay marriage, it must “respect the dignity of every person.” He continued, “The fundamental idea is the centrality of the person independently of sexual orientation.”

Next Steps

The report will next be subject to scrutinization of the bishops in attendance. A final report will then be released to churches around the world for discussion over the next year.   A second synod will then be held in Rome next October. Regardless of the consultation and debate, Pope Francis will still ultimately set the course.

According to Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Manila the report is a marker by which bishops can “see what needs to be deepened, what needs to be clarified, and what other things should be raised, which we have not yet raised.”

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Source: The New York Times, Vatican Signals More Tolerance Toward Gays and Divorce, October 13, 2014

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