Synod on Family should face up to gay issues, says English bishop

One of two English bishops at the Synod on the Family in Rome has said he is "concerned" that the cardinals and archbishops are failing to address homosexuality.

Bishop of Northamption Peter Doyle of Northampton said gay people were being left in limbo. "I'm a little concerned that we haven't faced up to those issues." 

Bishop of Northampton Peter Doyle wants the Synod on the Family to face up to the gay issueNorthampton Diocese of the Catholic Church in England and Wales

"The majority of synod fathers are not considering this to be the main issue in their own situation and although the issues have been raised occasionally, they've been put in a siding.

"It's a combination of their being too difficult and also the basic theological anthropology, our understanding from the Scripture of man and woman, there is no room for a same-sex relationship. So I think they're saying, 'we don't know what to do,"  he told Vatican Radio. "We can't leave people dangling in the air and in limbo. The Lord loves us all and we need to find a way of embracing everyone."

All the bishops are divided into groups depending on their nationality and language. Bishop Doyle said his group was on the traditional side. "I'm concerned there may be a little fear that in trying to explore the possibilities we're undermining the eternal truths of the Church. And I just don't think that is the case."

The 270 Synod fathers have been attempting to bridge the divide between two different visions of family life and ministry, one focused more on the traditional teaching of the Church and the other searching for new ways of engaging with people in relationships or situations that do not conform to Catholic doctrine.

Bishop Doyle said he was conscious of that "gap that has to be bridged".

Some bishops were fearful of reconciling "a Church upholding the eternal truth of faith" with "a Church offering healing and mercy to those who have failed to live up to that teaching." None was trying to undermine the traditional teaching of the Church, he said, but it was essential to find a way of responding to those in difficult situations.

He suggested issues around homosexuality might need to be addressed in a special, future synod.

He spoke as the Church in Italy faced possible defeat over moves to introduce same-sex partnerships.

The Church has until now managed to prevent same-sex unions being introduced in law, but the Civil Union Bill has reached parliament in Italy and the Church could be less successful this time in influencing its defeat.

Paolo Segatti, political sociology professor at Milan university,  told Italy's The Local: "It's not like 30 years ago. There are fewer practising Catholics in Italy. This decline has been happening for some time. The Church's influence is now very small, so I don't think it will be able to block this."