Pope Francis seems to have a suffered a setback when his insinuations and attempt to persuade Catholic Church leaders for merciful attitudes towards gays and same sex marriage failed to muster support during the recently concluded Synod of the Bishops on Pastoral Challenges to the Family held in Rome.
So, has the image of the amiable and popular pope been tarnished?
Well, not really. It would have been a different matter if he insisted on imposing his will, but such hubris is not in Francis’ character. Instead he left it up to the Catholic bishops to decide while having encouraged them to speak candidly and “without timidness.”
And that is just what they did during the debate with the conservative bishops warning their liberal colleagues that the job of the modern church leaders is to guard the 2000 years of accrued layers upon layers of belief, teachings and traditions instead of changing them. They termed this accrual as the ‘deposit of faith’.
“The Pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”
While the earlier draft had said that homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”, the revised document only said that discrimination against gay people “is to be avoided”.
The final report, which has been rewritten many times during the synod also insists that although there can be no analogy between same-sex unions and marriage between a man and a woman, “men and women with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy”.
So for the moment it is enough that the gay’s “gifts and qualities” in a Christian community is recognized but not fully embraced/accepted to be part and parcel of the Catholic doctrine. The same goes with same sex marriage.
Is there any way that this could change?
Those belonging to the ‘3rd sex’ should not despair because about this time next year the synod will reconvene to discuss these issues again, among other things.