SHAFAQNA -Homosexuals “have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”, bishops at the Vatican said yesterday, in a dramatic shift in the Catholic Church’s traditionally negative view of homosexuality.

A document released after the first week of a synod to discuss family issues asked: “Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?”

It does not signify a shift in doctrine, adding that “unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman.” However, it marks a change in tone from the church’s focus on gay sex as “intrinsically disordered,” and follows the Pope saying: “Who am I to judge?” when asked last year about homosexuality.

The Pope launched the synod by urging bishops to speak their minds on issues such as contraception, gays and divorce, after a poll he ordered suggested that churchgoers were ignoring traditional church teaching.

The document issued yesterday, which distilled a series of speeches made by the 191 prelates at the synod, stated that there were “positive” aspects to heterosexual couples living together without being married. It also suggests that churchgoers forbidden from taking communion because they have divorced and remarried might be given permission if they went through a period of penitence.

Bishops will go into smaller, private meetings for the second week of the synod, and their final document may reflect conservative views. Yesterday, Francesco Coccopalmerio, an Italian cardinal, said: “We won’t judge homosexual couples, but we will never bless them.”

Source : thetimes.co.uk

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