Synod on the Family will not be dominated by homosexuality, says Pope Francis


The contentious issue of homosexuality will not be allowed to dominate the Pope's forthcoming Synod on the Family in Rome this autumn, the Holy See has made clear.

A working paper published this week also reduces hopes for reform of the ban on remarried divorcees being admitted to Holy Communion. Instead, the document emphasises the importance of teaching Catholics to value the beauty of an indissoluble marriage. The key gospel text is Christ's command to the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more".

The synod, which will meet from October 4 to October 24, follows last year's gathering which raised hopes in some quarters of a more liberal approach from Rome on homosexuality and the remarriage of divorcees.

The new 80-page working document for the synod, the Instrumentum laboris, reiterates that the Catholic Church is opposed to gay marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples. It is an extended version of the final document from the last meeting and attempt to address all the problems confronting families worldwide.

The Church's official teaching is: "Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder." 

The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, a grouping of Catholic gay rights organisations, said they were "disappointed". In a statement the network said the working paper does not reflect the "rich discussions which have taken place, internationally and at all levels in the Church, on the welcome, respect, and value which should be afforded to lesbian and gay people in the Catholic community."

The working document says "everyone, regardless of their sexual tendencies, should be respected in their dignity and welcomed with sensitivity and tact."

The document also calls for dioceses to develop programmes to accompany gay people and parents with gay children on their journeys so they can be helped to understand Church teachings.

Archbishop Bruno Forte, secretary to the synod, said bishops will not be banned from discussing this or any other issue during the meeting.

Among issues which will receive particular attention are the widening gap between rich and poor, the environment, infertility, the ageing process and disability. It says families are all in need of mercy, "beginning with those who are suffering the most."

At the end of the synod Pope Francis will write an Apostolic Exhortation to the entire Church.