Pope Francis sprinkles holy water with an aspergillum at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Pope Francis suffered a harsh blow to his progressive agenda for the Catholic Church, as his proposals for wider acceptance of homosexuals failed to achieve a two-thirds majority vote at the synod in Rome on Saturday.
The draft report in question, which called for increased acceptance and openness within the church for homosexuals as well as divorcees who have chosen to remarry, stated that “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy." While all other aspects of the synod were passed, the paragraphs in the report regarding homosexuals and divorced people were both rejected.
Instead, the final draft read that “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community." This failure to fully welcome gay people into the Catholic community was a huge let down for many gay-rights groups, as well as the Pope himself.
After the vote, during the conclusion of the synod, Pope Francis warned the church against "a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God".
Since Francis's ordination as Pope in March 2013, the Jesuit Pope has been recognized for his humility and socially liberal policies. While Francis has until now maintained the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion, contraceptive methods and homosexuality, he has now come out and said that gay people should not be marginalized within the church.
"God is not afraid of new things,” Pope Francis said during the conclusion of the Synod on Saturday evening. “That is why he is continuously surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways.”
This vote by the Catholic Synod occurred the same day that the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, first recognized the validity of gay marriages performed outside the country. Although gay marriage is currently illegal in Italy, some cities allow gay couples who have married in other countries to register their marriage in city hall upon return. By recognizing 16 gay marriages that occurred outside of Italy, Mayor Marino took historic steps in shifting the country's conservative culture.
"Such arbitrary presumption, put on show right here in Rome at the present time, is unacceptable," Italy’s Episcopal Conference, the national association of bishops, said in a statement responding to Marino's actions, while referencing the Catholic synod presently occurring in Rome.
The Catholic synod is set to reconvene in larger numbers next year to discuss the topic of gay marriage within the Catholic Church, among other social issues.
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