Monday, 13 October 2014

Relatio Post Disceptationem: An "Earthquake" or Nothing New?

Image courtesy of Catholic Herald

Commentator John Thavis has called this document a "pastoral earthquake" (see <here>) while others have described the Synod as a "coven of perversion and perversity" (see <here>). However the media headlines have all focused on the Church to adopting a more positive stance on homosexuality.

This document is only part way through the meeting of Church leaders called by Pope Francis. The preliminary report written by bishops said homosexuals had "gifts and qualities to offer" and should not be turned away.

The Catholic Herald reports:

The document calls on the Church to build on the “positive aspects” of relationships that are deemed irregular – such as between remarried couples or same-sex partners – and keep the “doors always wide open” to people in those relationships.

The relatio says that the Church reaching out to divorced Catholics does not represent a “weakening of its faith” but an exercise of charity.

The document asks the questions:

Are we capable of welcoming these people [homosexuals], guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

This links to the emphasis of  the “principle of graduality”, This is the idea that Catholics move towards full acceptance of Church teaching in steps, and that the Church needs to accompany them with patience and understanding. 

Joshua McElwee, writing <here>, a Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, said that the synod’s interim document has “a decidedly different tone” from many Church statements in recent years.

Cardinal Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier summed up some of the controversy by saying, “Individual things that were said by individuals, may have been repeated a couple of times, are put in here as if they really do reflect the feeling of the whole synod. They've been picked up by the media then and made to be the message of the synod. I think that’s where the upset is.” (see <here>)

The Vatican Press Office has also made this very clear: "The General Secretariat of the Synod … reiterates that it is a working document, which summarizes the interventions and debate of the first week" (see <here>).
Perhaps the trouble is that the media have latched upon some messages of the document and are putting forward a different tone of message from what the Bishops hoped for?

However the end result appears to be one of charity and understanding, recognising good in all, and working towards better relationships with one another and with the Church. The next week will be interesting, as will the Synod in 2015 on the The Family. This document has created hope for many, despite the reservation from others.

Do you think it is right that Church looks at these teachings? Do you think there is anything new here, or should Catholics have always been looking for good in everyone? Why do you think some people are not happy with this?

Read more <here> and <here> and <here>

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