The Vatican appears to have backtracked on their unprecedented positive comments on homosexuality after a furious reaction from conservative Catholics.
On Monday, Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo read out an interim report at the Synod’s General Congregation that declared homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer” and even raised the prospect of the Catholic Church recognising the positive aspects of same-sex relationships.
The church, it added, must welcome divorced people and recognise the "positive" aspects of civil marriages and even Catholics who live together without being married.
The document was described as an “earthquake” in the Church’s attitude towards gays and heralded as a “turning point” in policy by Vatican experts.
But on Tuesday, conservative bishops distanced themselves from the document's remarkable opening toward gays and divorced Catholics, calling it an "unacceptable" deviation from church teaching that does not reflect their views.
The leaders of the bishops' meeting that produced it have now said it was simply a “working document” and was not intended to be an official statement of church teaching on family life.
Instead, they said it was a reflection of bishops' views that will be debated and amended before a final version is released on Saturday.
The Holy See press office said bishops had "appreciated" the document but some offered additional reflections "to bring together various points of view."
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
1/12 The Pro-Gay Pope
In just a year, Pope Francis has managed to change the public perception of the Catholic Church, and the stance it takes on civil issues, like gay rights. Despite originally protesting the legalisation of gay marriage in his native Argentina some years ago, he told reporters this year: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
2/12 The Rebel Pope
No other Pope has urged a shake-up of the Catholic Church quite like Pope Francis, a true rebel of the dioceses. Who, incidentally, used to be a night club bouncer.
3/12 The Graffiti Pope
Pope Francis become... SUPER POPE in this Vatican-approved street art. But was he happy with the reference to the fictional DC comic character?"To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person," he said. So, that's a no, then.
4/12 The Biker Pope
Yes, the Pope used to own a Harley Davidson. And yes, he auctioned it off this year and donated the proceeds to a charity that feeds the hungry in Rome. Very Papal.
5/12 The ‘Blue’ Pope
Dropping the 'F' bomb during Sunday service? Classic Pope Francis. Sadly, down to a Spanish-speaking slip of the Italian language rather than pure bad-assery.
6/12 The ‘Because I’m Worth It’ Pope
That awkward moment when your Papal hat blows off, forcing your barnet into Sesame Street-like spikes. Pope Francis has been there.
7/12 The Chocolate Pope
Imagine the Pope's delight (horror?) when he was presented with a giant chocolate replica of himself outside the Vatican by by students on a chocolatier course at the Accademia of Maestri Cioccolatieri, near Venice.
8/12 The Rock Star pope
The one and only religious leader ever to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? Introducing... Pope Francis.
9/12 The People’s Pope
His U-turn attitude towards sexuality won him Time magazine's coveted Person of the Year accolade, and the cover of gay rights magazine The Advocate.
10/12 The Merchandise Pope
Thongs, mugs, onesies, earrings and even a baby mobile adorned with decapitated Pope heads, the 'Francis Effect' has seen sales of Papal merchandise soar by 200% over the last year.
11/12 The Fashion Pope
The only Pope, as far as we're aware, to be compared to fashion royalty (Karl Lagerfeld. Yes way.) and win Esquire's Most Stylish Man of 2013 award, too.
12/12 The Modern Pope
Let it be said, Pope Francis knows a thing or two about social media. He might be a way off 'doing a Dalai' and opting for Instagram, but he's not above posing for the odd 'Selfie' on Twitter.
'The bishops called for "prudence" over same-sex relationships so that “the impression of a positive evaluation of such a tendency on the part of the church is not created”.
"The same care was advised with regard to cohabitation," the Vatican said. Bishops also suggested the final document highlight faithful Catholic families to avoid "a near-exclusive focus on imperfect family situations”.
"The report, obviously composed under pressure, has easily given rise to some misinterpretation," British Cardinal Vincent Nichols said Tuesday.
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"It is not a doctrinal or decisive document. It is, as stated in its conclusion, 'intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer on reflection."'
Several conservatives who participated in the synod also immediately distanced themselves from the report. The head of the Polish bishops' conference, Cardinal Stanislaw Gadecki, called it "unacceptable" and a deviation from church teaching.
American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican's Supreme Court, told Catholic World Report that the document contained positions "which many synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept."
Additional reporting by agenciesReuse content