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Vatican Backtracks On Positive Comments About Gays Following Conservative Backlash

It appears there have been some aftershocks to yesterday's pastoral earthquake. Despite a groundbreaking report issued yesterday from the Vatican which declared unheard-of support for gay persons, saying gay people have unique “gifts and qualities” to offer their parishes, the Catholic Church is today backtracking on the report as a result of the ire expressed by more conservative members of the clergy. CNN reports: 

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511d5bb66970c-250wiIn response to such reactions, the Vatican backtracked a bit Tuesday. In a statement, it said the report on gays and lesbians was a "working document," not the final word from Rome.

The Vatican also said that it wanted to welcome gays and lesbians in the church, but not create "the impression of a positive evaluation" of same-sex relationships, or, for that matter, of unmarried couples who live together.

But gay rights groups say that's precisely the impression the Vatican gave Monday when it said:

"Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of welcoming these people, 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?"

Such statements seem to be in line with the more merciful approach the church has taken toward gays and lesbians under Pope Francis. In 2013, Francis famously said, "Who am I to judge" gay people?

On Monday morning, just before the Vatican released its positive report on gays, Francis preached that laws that do not lead people to Jesus are "dead," and that Christ did "strange things" such as hanging out with sinners and tax collectors.

Monday’s report also said of same-sex relationships, “it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners” and said bishops must grasp the "positive reality of civil weddings" where heterosexual co-habitation (i.e. “living in sin”) is concerned. 

Despite the backtrack, some gay rights advocates still herald Monday’s report and believe today’s retread isn’t a devastating a setback:

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fd263b67970b-250wi"I actually don't think this is as much of a backtrack as we usually see!" said Marianne Duddy-Burke, head of the gay rights group Dignity USA.

"I think that response to this report was swift and intense, and I'm sure many bishops want to be sure people aren't reading more into it than is there," she continued. "However, it is undeniable that there has never been any Vatican document that made positive, respectful statements about same-sex relationships, so that is an undeniable breakthrough."

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, echoed that sentiment.

"Regardless of the fact that this is a working document, it is still significant in that it reveals a strong current of affirmative attitudes at high levels in the church towards lesbians and gay people," he said.


Pope Francis Urges Honest Debate On Homosexuality, Marriage, Contraception, Divorce - VIDEO

Pope Francis has urged bishops to speak freely on issues such as contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce at a two-week meeting aimed at making the Catholic church's teaching on family matters relevant to today's Catholics, reports The Associated Press.

FrancisThe synod marks the first time the Vatican is addressing homosexuality on a pastoral level. Earlier this year, Francis suggested that the church may be open to the idea of supporting same-sex civil unions.

In a bid to encourage honest debate, the Vatican is restricting public information about what is said at the meeting and will not be releasing texts of individual bishops as it has done in the past.

In order to inform the debate, Francis last year sent a questionnaire to bishops’ conferences around the world which confirmed that while most Catholics believe in the indissolubility of marriage, the vast majority ignore and reject church teaching on sex and contraception. The responses also suggested that the church needs to develop a pastoral plan to minister to gay people in civil unions and to children being raised in such families.

At the start of the meeting today, Francis told bishops “you have to say what you feel the Lord tells you to say, without concerns of human respect and without fear.”

Church reform groups have said the pope’s insistence on open debate are reason for hope. However, Conservative churchmen are hoping that the synod will simply reaffirm church doctrine and make it more known and understood by Catholics.

Watch a BBC report on the opening of the synod, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Pope Francis Urges Honest Debate On Homosexuality, Marriage, Contraception, Divorce - VIDEO" »


Pope Francis To Exile Anti-Gay Conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke - VIDEO

Cardinal Raymond Burke

Pope Francis may be about to remove homophobe Cardinal Raymond Burke from his position as head of the Vatican’s “Supreme Court,” relegating him to a largely ceremonial role as head of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, reports conservative news outlet Breitbart.

Burke has been very forthcoming on his feelings regarding the rights and wrongs of discrimination.  In 2010, he announced that while racism is unacceptable, discrimination against LGBT people is “perfectly just and good.”

Waxing lyrical on his pro-discrimination stance, Burke went on to explain to gay people what they have been doing wrong for all these years:

“Sexual acts between persons of the same sex are intrinsically evil, are against nature itself...its simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.”

In the past, Burke announced that former presidential candidate John Kerry would not be allowed to receive communion for his pro-abortion stance and excommunicated two women who claimed to have been ordained by a third woman claiming to be a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.

The new role would see Burke removed from the Roman Curia, the body of Vatican-based Cardinals who are close advisers to the Pope.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis suggested that the Catholic Church might consider supporting same-sex civil unions

Watch Burke explain why it's ok to discriminate against gay people, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Pope Francis To Exile Anti-Gay Conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke - VIDEO" »


Big Question: Is The Catholic Church Undergoing An Evolution On Same-Sex Marriage?

Popefrancis1Christopher J. Hale, a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, is asking a big question following a year of semi-relaxed treatment of homosexuality by the Church: is the Catholic Church really evolving on the issue of same-sex marriage? Are we on the precipice of a larger revolution? Evolution, yes, revolution, no, according to Hale, who believes that sensitive leadership from Pope Francis may bring Catholic leaders into a warmer, more tolerant phase but doubts we will see said leaders approving of gay marriage anytime soon.

Time reports:

6a00d8341c730253ef01901e14e593970b-800wiLast week New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan gave his okay to the St. Patrick Day Parade Committee’s decision to allow a gay group to march in the 2015 parade under their own banner. This was a remarkable shift from one of Dolan’s predecessors Cardinal John O’Connor who in 1993 declared that to allow a gay group to march in the parade would be a slander to the Apostle’s Creed.

This closes a remarkable summer in which a number of high-ranking Catholic prelates have signaled that Pope Francis’s more open posture on gay issues has permeated through the Catholic world. In May, a top-ranking Italian bishop said that the Church should be more open to arguments in support of same-sex marriage. And just a few weeks ago, one of Pope Francis’s closest friends Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes said in an interview that he “didn’t know” whether Jesus would oppose gay marriage.

High-ranking Catholics from around the world will congregate at the Synod of the Family this October, and Hale believes that therein lies a chance to communicate the need for acceptance rather than cold dismissal of homosexuals. After a 1975 declaration that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered," a somewhat liberal backlash forced some Catholic leaders to reconsider the harsh rhetoric of the church.

In 1997, the American bishops grew concerned that the language from Rome had grown too cold and in response published the pastoral letter Always Our Children.

In it, they write: “God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual. God’s love is always and everywhere offered to those who are open to receiving it.” It says Church ministers must “welcome homosexual persons into the faith community, and seek out those on the margins. Avoid stereotyping and condemning. Strive first to listen.”

Hale believes that Pope Francis will bring this ideal to the Synod of the Family and continue a quite public, very evident evolution of homosexual ideology within the church.

His is only one opinion, though not without reason. And many will still argue that a slow "evolution" is not enough. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


The Fight For Marriage Equality In Italy: VIDEO

Pope francis receptive to civil partnerships

The close proximity of Vatican City to the Italian parliament may help to explain why Italy is the only country in Western Europe that provides no legal recognition of same-sex couples, reports Buzzfeed.

However, that situation may be about to change.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis suggested that a time might come when the church would drop its opposition to some form of civil partnership.

In the interview with Corriere della Sera, the pope said that although “marriage is between a man and a woman...we have to look at the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.” 6a00d8341c730253ef019aff7cea6f970b-300wi

Speaking to Buzzfeed last week, Monsignor Marcel Sánchez Sorondo said while the Catholic Church is against marriage equality, legislation that differentiates between marriage and civil partnerships might be acceptable.

According to a 2013 Pew survey, 74% of Italians said they believed “homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society.” A 2013 Ipsos poll found that 48% of Italians supported full same-sex marriage rights while 31% opposed marriage rights but supported an alternative form of partnership recognition.

Naples recently became the first large city in Italy to start recognizing overseas same-sex marriages after a lower court ordered officials in Grosseto to record an overseas marriage, reports Buzzfeed. However, some LGBT activists worry that the ruling may be no more than symbolic because a Supreme Court order issued last month ordered the annulment of a same-sex marriage. The Constitutional Court later ruled the forced annulment violated the rights of the couple in question. The court also ruled that the marriage remains invalid until the Italian government passes a law recognizing same-sex unions.

However, according to Dina Nerozzi, a psychologist and lay adviser to the Pontifical Council for the Family, marriage equality cannot happen:

“People will fight for that. I mean fight — [we] will take weapons out.”

Watch a report on Corriere della Sera's interview with Pope Francis, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "The Fight For Marriage Equality In Italy: VIDEO" »


Vatican Says Catholic Church Must Become More Inclusive Towards Gays and Their Families

A newly released Vatican document calls on the Catholic Church to be less judgmental towards gays and encourages dioceses to welcome children of gay couples into the faith with equal dignity - further signaling the Church’s shifting tone on LGBT issues.

VaticanThe 75-page document, based on responses to a questionnaire sent to dioceses around the world, will be discussed at a Vatican meeting of the bishops this October.

Reuters reports:

While the new document did not signal any immediate change in the Church's condemnation of homosexual acts and its opposition to gay marriage and to the adoption of children by gay people, it used language that was remarkably less judgmental and more compassionate than past Vatican statements.

It said that while bishops remained opposed to governments "redefining" marriage by permitting same-sex unions, the Church had to find a balance between its teachings on the traditional family "and a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions."

Pope FrancisWhile ex-Pope Benedict called homosexuality “intrinsically disordered,” and an obstacle to world peace, Pope Francis has led the effort to "rebrand" the Church in a more LGBT-inclusive direction, saying last July "If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?"  

Reuters continues:

The document noted that a number of Catholics who responded to the questionnaire felt "a certain unease at the challenge of accepting these people with a merciful spirit and, at the same time, holding to the moral teaching of the Church ..."

"However, when people living in such unions request a child's baptism, almost all the responses emphasize that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children," it said.


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