In a rectent news article in the Independent, the Catholic Synod moderated it’s language towards single-sex couples.
While the Synod continues to uphold the current line of the Catholic Church, and does not seek to change that, it does offer a way forward. It comes on the back of Pope Francis’ statement last year to the LGBTQ community “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”.
The full document itself is lengthy, and does attempt to explore what the Catholic Church means by family. It explores in depth the problems faced by families in the social context, raising the problems of isolation and children born outside of marriage seen in the west, and the practice of polygamy still seen in many places in Africa.
It is as the discussion on what it means to be family develops does the Church find that it needs to say something on the nature of same-sex relationships
In the section entitled Truth and beauty of the family and mercy the document has this to say:
21. The Gospel of the family, while it shines in the witness of many families who live coherently their fidelity to the sacrament, with their mature fruits of authentic daily sanctity must also nurture those seeds that are yet to mature, and must care for those trees that have dried up and wish not to be neglected.
22. In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.
23. Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.
Here the church begins to wrestle with the reality of life that is experienced by most people. It affirms, of course, the stance on marriage, but also makes the point that there are those who have formed non-traditional unions that show the hallmarks of what would be held up as the hallmarks of marriage.
It is good that the Roman Catholic Church has faced this issue head-on. Jesus himself had a non-traditional family, and it is about time that the Churches that attempt to live by his teaching try to minister to all of God’s Children, just like he would have.