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Vatican Report Conciliatory Toward Gays

Unmarried Couples

An assembly of Roman Catholic bishops calls for the church to welcome gays,
unmarried couples and those who have divorced. Steve Inskeep talks to George
Nick – Vatican Reporter


Anyone who has followed the last few popes may have trouble believing this next news
story at all. An assembly of Roman Catholic bishops has made what is being described
as a dramatic shift in tone. They're calling for the church to welcome gay people,
unmarried couples and those who have divorced. We're going to talk about this with
George Nick. Welcome back to the program.

George Nick: Thank you. Glad to be here.

INSKEEP: So what was it that the bishops said exactly?

GEORGE: The bishops are meeting here in Rome. It's a worldwide meeting of bishops
known as a Synod for two weeks. And yesterday they've released a document
summarizing their first week of discussion, and it certainly is a dramatic and decided
shift in tone for the church. The bishops said that they want to reach out to modern
society and to the church at large, to walk with people in different situations, to
accompany them and to apply church doctrine alongside mercy.

Addressing homosexual unions, they said quite stunningly they didn't ask questions of
those people, but they ask questions of the church. Is the church being welcoming of
these people? And is it asking them into fraternal communion? And on the same side,
addressing couples who are living together before marriage, does the church understand
that there are certain economic factors around the world that make that beneficial? And
instead of condemning those people, they want to walk with them and maybe help them
find church teaching in their own time.

INSKEEP: Let's figure out what that means on a practical level, and maybe first you
should explain the attitude the Catholic Church has had toward gay people or people
who are living together but unmarried. Is it fair to say they've been kept at arm's length
up to now?

GEORGE: Yeah. I think same-sex couples in the United States would say that the church
has not embraced them fully or has not made them feel welcome. But what the Vatican

Certain people are permitted to take communion in the Catholic Church and certain people are not permitted to take communion in the Catholic Church. And they're not condemning these people. the church should walk with these people. INSKEEP: OK. therefore you're in trouble. teach them and help them find what is holy. but at the same time.said yesterday in a press briefing from Archbishop Bruno Forte. What's important about this document is it's a summary of discussions. but what it is saying is in one instance. INSKEEP: Educate me here a little bit. taking communion is both a personal choice and a choice of the community. I can't say anything and to listen to one another with openness and boldness. when he opened this Synod of bishops a week ago. he asked the bishops to talk frankly to one another. It's not a formal changing of church law. Could a gay couple now walk into church and take communion? GEORGE: The church obviously holds that marriage is between a man and a woman. So in that growth. So they're saying it's still against church teaching. church teaching says very clearly that same-sex unions are contrary to church doctrine. In the past. so it's not a formal statement of doctrine. It's quite clear that Pope Francis has changed this and that he wants everyone to speak openly. they're not saying that first. the document talks about a theological notion called gradualism. which is the idea that instead of being very rigorous in church law and saying you failed to do this. to not say. . it's saying people grow in their spiritual lives. But it's quite clear that church teaching doesn't have much leeway in that regard. Vatican reporter. INSKEEP: George Nick. people grow in their walk to find the holy and people grow in their attempt to follow church teaching. and he wants the discussions to happen so that there can be some search for truth among these people in a new way. It was kind of understood that when a bishop speaks. this change in church tone? GEORGE: Pope Francis. Does that mean the church has not actually changed its doctrine or its policy. who's the bishop leading the discussions here in Rome at this Synod . Although they're saying this is still wrong according to church teachings. the bishops have not spoken so openly. His first response was that the church has always said that every human person regardless of sexual orientation is a person of God and that human dignity then should be respected. but what seems to be changing here is that's what they're saying first. but asking how the church can welcome them and walk with them. And this is different than in the past. to not let anything go off the table. he has to adhere very closely to the current church doctrine and to what the current pope was saying. sometimes instead of condemning or applying church doctrine. That seems to be a very different shift in tone. it's simply trying to talk differently? GEORGE: Yeah. Thanks very much. INSKEEP: Why is this happening now. And so at this point.he was asked about this issue and asked about the change in tone.

GEORGE: Thank you. .