Vatican Synod urges Catholics to avoid using derogatory words on homosexuals

Pope Francis smiles with cardinals as he arrives to lead the synod on the family in the Synod hall at the Vatican on Oct. 9, 2015.Reuters

The Synod of Bishops is calling on Catholics to avoid using "condescending" language toward homosexuals and instead find ways to welcome them as sons and daughters of the Church.

The call for more inclusive language on homosexuals was made during a major gathering of Catholic bishops to tackle the challenges facing today's family, Vatican officials said, according to the Gospel Herald.

"The bishops said there must be an end to exclusionary language and a strong emphasis on embracing reality as it is. We should not be afraid of new and complex situations," Father Tom Rosica said in summarising some of the calls made.

He said the bishops "called for a new form of language,'' in particular in speaking to homosexuals, to advocate a more welcoming Church in keeping with the vision of Pope Francis for a more inclusive Church that "concentrates on mercy rather than the strict enforcement of rigid rules" which the Pope sees as antiquated.

For instance, he said, Catholics should stop using the word "pity'' on gays because this is a derogatory word.

"We do not pity gay persons but we recognise them for who they are. They are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our neighbours and our colleagues,'' said Rosica.

The new approach runs opposite with the document written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI that described homosexuals as "intrinsically disordered,'' said the Gospel Herald.

The synod of more than 300 bishops, delegates and observers, including 13 married couples, are currently holding a three-week meeting in the presence of Pope Francis to discuss how the 1.2-billion-member Church can confront challenges facing the modern family, the report said.

"The bishops will discuss ways to defend the traditional family and make life-long marriage more appealing to young people while reaching out to disaffected Catholics such as homosexuals, co-habiting couples and the divorced,'' according to Gospel Herald.