The Catholic Church is now offering divorcées “penitential paths” to forgiveness and “welcoming homosexual persons” – at least on paper. Today, the Vatican released their new thoughts on the contemporary Catholic family, after bishops spent a week learning about sex from people who have it during an official synod (a fancy word for meeting) in Vatican City. Their report from the debate makes gestures at progress but the reality is they’re barely saying anything at all on the topics people care most about: remarriage and the gays.
Remarriage: You might be forgiven, somehow and someway…
The Vatican’s press representative did not explain what the “penitential path” for the divorced will include. (Under current Catholic doctrine, divorced people usually need special pardons to reintegrate into Church.) This new path seems more hopeful than not, but since it’s still totally undefined, there’s really no way to tell.
LQBTQ: The Church welcomes you, second-class citizens.
This sentence says all you really need to know about the church’s persistent attitude toward gay people:
Unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman.
So no marriage equality any time soon.
In fact, the Bishops went so far as to denounce efforts to defund religious organizations based on their opposition to marriage equality. In their words:
Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
Leaders don’t want messy queer politics to interfere with their cash flow, but they seem to see the worth in adding a few gays to their group:
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?
Just a few lines later, you’re reminded this new hospitality is misguided, that it’s about making gays feel welcome in church “without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual union.”
In conclusion: What does this really mean?
While the church has adopted a less hate-mongering linguistic approach to dealing with the gay and lesbian “issue,” their document contains no political potency. It feels like Pope Francis is okay with your gay BFF coming to church with you, he just doesn’t want your guest to receive communion.
Few people expected The Vatican to release a sex-positive, queer-friendly, and forward-thinking manifesto, but many hoped the results of such a serious gathering would be bit more fruitful than they’ve proven to be, especially in light of how much young people are drifting from the Catholic Church and institutionalized religion altogether.
The meeting could have been Pope Francis’s moment to rebrand and expand. Instead, he’s just given a Papal hair flip.