Gays and their children should not suffer Church bias: Vatican

Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:46am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Church must be less judgmental of homosexuals and, while still opposing gay marriage, should welcome children of gay couples into the faith with equal dignity, a Vatican document said on Thursday.

A 75-page document, a working paper for the synod of Catholic bishops planned for the Vatican in October to discuss family issues, also said the 1.2 billion member Church should become less exclusive and more humble.

The document, known by its Latin term "Instrumentum Laboris", underscored the wide gap between official Church teachings on issues of sexual morality and their acceptance and understanding by the worldwide faithful.

It was based on responses to a 39-question survey to dioceses around the world ahead of the synod. For the first time in preparation for such a meeting, the Vatican asked bishops to share the survey widely with parish priests and for them to seek the views of their parishioners.

The Church's traditional position on homosexuality has led to some cases of the children of gay people being excluded from Church activities.

While the new document did not signal any immediate change in the Church's condemnation of homosexual acts and its opposition to gay marriage and to the adoption of children by gay people, it used language that was remarkably less judgmental and more compassionate than past Vatican statements.

It said that while bishops remained opposed to governments "redefining" marriage by permitting same-sex unions, the Church had to find a balance between its teachings on the traditional family "and a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions."

That phrase echoed Pope Francis' now famous words about homosexuals made on the plane taking him back from Brazil last July: "If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?"   Continued...

Pope Francis waves during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi