“(Gay people) “have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”… (Gay couples) “Provide each other mutual aid to the point of sacrifice and precious support in the life of the partners…”
“Divorced people who have not remarried should be invited to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their state. The local community and pastors have to accompany these people with solicitude, particularly when there are children involved or they find themselves in a serious situation of poverty.”
“In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against.”
“A new sensitivity in today’s pastoral consists in grasping the positive reality of civil weddings, and having pointed out our differences, of cohabitation. It is necessary that in the ecclesial proposal, while clearly presenting the ideal, we also indicate the constructive elements in those situations that do not yet or no longer correspond to that ideal…Pastoral accompaniment should always start with these positive aspects.”
Holy Roman Catholic Church - Synod 14 – Eleventh General Assembly
When I read these words I could feel a broad smile spread across my face. For with these words the Catholic Church entered the 21st century.
For so long the church of my youth preached that if you were gay, lesbian, transgender, married in a civil ceremony, divorced, divorced and remarried outside the church or cohabitating, you were living in sin…somehow “less than” in the eyes of God. With these words you will no longer be judged by the church you hold so dear. For the first time in my life, my church is following the words of Christ…that we are all sinners and as sinners who are we to judge? Inclusion over exclusion…compassion trumps hate.
Who would have ever dreamed that the Roman Catholic Church would move to the left of the Republican Party?
Yes, this 12 page report is not a final document but rather a work in progress. It will no doubt be debated and edited many times over the next several days. The Church will hold true to its belief in the sanctity of marriage between a man a woman that marriage is preferable to cohabitation and that marriage is absolute. But what we see here is a willingness to accept those who have chosen another path and welcome them into the community. Make no mistake; the release of this document to the public signifies that there is a major sea change taking place in the Vatican.
And the reason for this more inclusive shift is Pope Francis.
Since his election to the papacy by the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis has demonstrated by word and deed that the status quo would no longer be accepted. From shunning the lavish papal apartments favored by his predecessors for more humble living quarters to eliminating much of the ceremonial pomp and circumstance of the office, to riding the shuttle bus back and forth to work with the rest of the conclave; Pope Francis has demonstrated the humility, compassion and inclusiveness that Christ taught us.
I knew that something big was about to happen when I heard Pope Francis' unbelievable response to a reporter's question on the gay community. Pope Francis was recently asked if he approved of homosexuality. The Vicar of Christ answered: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?...Tell me, when God looks at a gay person,does he endorse the exostence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person."
With those few words Pope Francis forever changed the direction and tone of the Catholic Church.
This past Easter the Catholic Church canonized Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Election to sainthood is the highest honor bestowed by the Church. They will go down in church history as two of the most influential Pontiffs of our time. But they can’t hold a blessed candle to Francis. In his short time in office Pope Francis has done more in word and deed to open the doors of my Church to all who wish to enter than all of his predecessors combined.
Pope Francis is a rock star!
I’m smiling! And hundreds of millions of Catholics are smiling right along with me.