Vatican Softens Stance On LGBT Community
Lead by the progressive efforts of Pope Francis, the Vatican issued a directive Monday to Catholic parishes around the world with a simple change of policy: treat LGBT people with kindness and respect.
The statement, called “Relatio,” was the result of a week-long conference on the contemporary family organized by Pope Francis. The 200 bishops who participated called on the church to recognize the “gifts and qualities” that homosexuals can contribute and suggested that it is possible for the Catholics to make a “fraternal space” for gays without necessarily compromising on basic doctrine, which continues to view homosexual sex acts as sin and to deny the validity of same-sex marriage.
“[A]re we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a further space in our communities?” the document asked. “Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home.” According to Reuters, the statement will continue to be discussed over another week of meetings, and a final, possibly changed version, will be produced in the end.
“Relatio” comes at a particularly charged moment for Catholicism as it relates to LGBTQ people. Many saw Pope Francis’ words last year—“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”—as signaling a kind of perestroika, and this “synod” statement suggests that the Church’s position on the issue is indeed reforming to a degree. However, in the U.S., the rapid expansion of same-sex marriage rights across the various states has given rise to a growing number of high-profile controversies in which gay Catholics have been fired from lay positions as teachers and choir directors and barred from receiving communion for marrying their partners—often despite having been openly recognized as committed couples in their local church and communities for decades.
Even though these are fundamental teachings of Jesus, it took the Vatican a few millennia to figure out they should treat their neighbors with compassion, huh? Better late than never, right?