Pope tells Catholics after his plans to soften church’s attitude towards homosexuals were rejected by Synod
(SOURCE) Pope Francis called on the church to adapt to ‘changing conditions of society’ yesterday following a conference that rejected changes that would have softened the church’s stance toward homosexuality and divorce.
As he beatified Pope Paul VI who implemented the Second Vatican Council’s vast changes, Pope Francis said ‘God is not afraid of new things’.
Liberal reforms to church doctrine which fell short of the two thirds majority needed for success in the meeting would also have opened the way for Catholics who are divorced and remarried to receive communion, the central sacrament of the church.
Traditionalists, the Pope said, risk a temptation of ‘hostile inflexibility’.
It is unclear whether the document issued Saturday is a set-back for the pope, but the conference did prompt the church to discuss difficult issues such as the role of gays, lesbians and divorced Catholics.
Commentators said the bishops had done what Francis had asked of them, which was to talk about the issues in an ‘open way’. But those talks, to ‘take the bishop’s pulse’ on current issues, had exposed a split reformers and conservatives.
An interim document issued last week by the bishops halfway through their synod included wording that welcomed the ‘gifts and qualities’ of gay Catholics and called on pastors to ‘avoid any language or behavior’ that could discriminate against divorced Catholics, USA Today reported.
Saturday’s report did not feature the reconciliatory language.
The final paper also emphasised strongly that there was no change in the church’s attitude to gay relationships.
Divorced and remarried Catholics were denied hopes of a reform that would approve their taking communion without any annulment of their first marriage.
The synod said ‘greater theological study’ and ‘further consideration’ were required.
The church does not recognise divorce so remarried Catholics are regarded as adulterers.
Some experts compared Pope Francis’ efforts to modernise the church’s postion, with Paul’s implementation of the Second Vatican Council, which dramatically modernized the church in the 1960s and 1970s.
Sunday’s ceremony leaves Paul, who was pope from 1963 until his death in 1978, just one step short of sainthood. Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, who came before and after Paul, respectively, were made saints six months ago. Also attending the beatification Mass was Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.
While the bishops failed to build on the tone he set last year by saying, ‘Who am I to judge?’ when asked whether gays can be good Christians, observers applauded the openness of addressing the contentious issues.
A year-long debate and discussions will now before the bishops will reconvene for another three-week synod. A document on pastoral guidelines will then be formalised.
Commentators believe Pope Francis will spend the next year making his case with bishops, but they believe the outcome could simply lead to the gap between church leaders widening.