The Vatican yesterday presented a document to the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome, in the presence of Pope Francis, which contained some surprisingly positive comments on lesbian and gay people.
“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” the potentially groundbreaking document reads:
“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?”
“[Yesterday’s] comments from the Vatican suggest a change in the tone of the Catholic Church’s approach to gay people, and are welcome. The Vatican document provides an opportunity for the Catholic Church to change the way it treats lesbian and gay people” said Kieran Rose, Chair of GLEN, Ireland’s gay and lesbian network.
While Pope Francis described marriage as a union “between a man and a woman” in an interview for the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Serra, earlier this year, Rose said that it is a “welcome change” to hear the Vatican talking about ‘accepting and valuing’ people’s sexual orientation.
“[It] builds on the comments of Pope Francis who last year when talking of gay people said ‘who am I to judge?’”, said Rose.
Rose also explained that this new document from the Vatican recognises that lesbian and gay couples are parenting children and acknowledges that the ‘needs and rights’ of their children should be given priority.
“We hope that the Vatican and the Irish Catholic Church will take the opportunity to support current proposals by the Irish Government to bring legal certainty and security to these families” Rose continued.
“If the positive approach indicated … is adopted by the Synod, it holds out the possibility of a new engagement by the Catholic Church on civil rights issues, such as on civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples”.
“Irish people, the majority of whom are Catholic, support efforts to ensure the full participation of lesbian and gay people in all aspects of Irish society. We see this in the warm welcome for civil partnerships all across the country and in the widespread public support for access to civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples. The Irish Catholic Church’s response to the forthcoming referendum on civil marriage will demonstrate the practical effects that this new openness from the Vatican is having” concluded Rose.