Pope’s exhortation adopts the approach to same-sex unions that Synod fathers rejected

Pope’s exhortation adopts the approach to same-sex unions that Synod fathers rejected

Voice of the Family

April 14, 2016 ( LifeSiteNews.com/opinion/popes-exhortation-adopts-the-approach-to-same-sex-unions-that-synod-fathers ) – Throughout the two “synods on the family” held in Rome in October 2014 and October 2015 there was intense pressure for the Church to change her immutable teaching on homosexuality and homosexual unions. This pressure came not only from “LGBT” activists but also from those responsible for preparing the official synodal documents.

The approach to homosexual unions in the synod documents

See the appendix at the end of the article for fuller extracts from the synodal documents.

1. The Extraordinary Synod’s interim Relatio post disceptationem affirmed “that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman”. This implies that there is some footing on which same-sex unions can be considered legitimate.

2. This approach was vigorously opposed by many synod fathers. The fruits of their opposition can be seen in the Extraordinary Synod’s final report (Relatio synodi). In this document the formulation above was replaced with a statement taken from a previous ecclesiastical document: “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

3. In June 2015 the Synod Secretariat published the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document of the Ordinary Synod. In paragraph 8 the Synod Secretariat once more suggested that homosexual unions had some degree of legitimacy. They did this by acknowledging the necessity of “defining the specific character of such unions in society” while calling for “a more thorough examination of human nature and culture which is based not simply on biology and sexual difference.”

4. The synod fathers rejected this approach for a second time, as can be seen in the final report of the Ordinary Synod, which repeats the same magisterial teaching as the final report of the Extraordinary Synod.

Amoris Laetitia reintroduces the rejected approach

We have seen above that both the Relatio post disceptationem of the Extraordinary Synod and the Instrumentum Laboris of the Ordinary Synod included passages that suggested that homosexual unions, while not equal to marriage, nonetheless have some degree of legitimacy. The synod fathers rejected this approach: no such passages are found in the final reports of either synod.

The rejected approach has however been re-introduced in Amoris Laetitia which states, in paragraph 52, that:

We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, may not simply be equated with marriage.
This implies:

that “same-sex unions” are one of the “great variety of family situations”;
that same-sex unions offer a “certain stability”; and
that same-sex unions can be “equated” with marriage on some level, if not “simply.”
Furthermore the paragraph states that “only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life.” To state that only marriage has a “plenary role” necessarily means that other forms of union do have some role to play in society.

The Voice of the Family coalition has decades of collective experience lobbying at the United Nations, the European Union and at the level of national government. We know very well the significance of such phrases, which are deliberately inserted into documents so that they can later be exploited to pursue a radical ideological agenda.

It is for this reason that governments of many nations, with the assistance of pro-life and pro-family campaigners, have fought for decades, and are still fighting, to keep such terms out of official documents.

The tragic significance of their appearance in a document promulgated by the Pope cannot be overemphasised.

APPENDIX: SYNODAL TEXTS ON HOMOSEXUALITY

Relatio post disceptationem of the Extraordinary Synod of the Family, 13th October 2014

Welcoming homosexual persons

50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

Relatio synodi of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, 18th October 2014

Pastoral Attention towards Persons with Homosexual Tendencies

55. Some families have members who have a homosexual tendency. In this regard, the synod fathers asked themselves what pastoral attention might be appropriate for them in accordance with Church teaching: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” Nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4).

56. Exerting pressure in this regard on the Pastors of the Church is totally unacceptable: it is equally unacceptable for international organizations to link their financial assistance to poorer countries with the introduction of laws that establish “marriage” between persons of the same sex.

Instrumentum Laboris of the Ordinary Synod, 23 June 2015

[8.] At the same time, however, some want to recognize the stable character of a couple’s relationship apart from sexual difference, and place it on the same level as the marital relationship, which is intrinsically connected to the roles of a father and a mother and determined on the biological basis of child-bearing. The resulting confusion is of no assistance in defining the specific character of such unions in society.

Pastoral Attention towards Persons with Homosexual Tendencies

130. (55) Some families have members who have a homosexual tendency. In this regard, the synod fathers asked themselves what pastoral attention might be appropriate for them in accordance with Church teaching: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” Nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4).

131. The following point needs to be reiterated: every person, regardless of his/her sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his/her human dignity and received with sensitivity and great care in both the Church and society. It would be desirable that dioceses devote special attention in their pastoral programmes to the accompaniment of families where a member has a homosexual tendency and of homosexual persons themselves.

132. (56) Exerting pressure in this regard on the Pastors of the Church is totally unacceptable: it is equally unacceptable for international organizations to link their financial assistance to poorer countries with the introduction of laws that establish “marriage” between persons of the same sex.

Relazione Finale of the Ordinary Synod on the Family, 24 October 2015

76. The Church’s attitude is like that of her Master, who offers his boundless love to every person without exception (cf. MV, 12). To families with homosexual members, the Church reiterates that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his/her dignity and received with respect, while carefully avoiding “every sign of unjust discrimination” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4). Specific attention is given to guiding families with homosexual members. Regarding proposals to place unions of homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” (ibid). In every way, the Synod maintains as completely unacceptable that local Churches be subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies link financial aid to poor countries to the introduction of laws to establish “marriage” between people of the same sex.

Amoris Laetitia, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 19 March 2016

[52.]… There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life. We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage.

251. In discussing the dignity and mission of the family, the Synod Fathers observed that, “as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”. It is unacceptable “that local Churches should be subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies should make financial aid to poor countries dependent on the introduction of laws to establish ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex”.

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