Pope Francis‘s attempt to win a spot at the catholic holy communion table for gay and those who divorced and then remarried failed when bishops voted against the draft document last Saturday. The pope had invited the bishops to attend a two-week synod conference at the Vatican. The draft document had been prepared by a committee selected by Pope Francis. The document included language that stated that homosexuals can play a positive role in the Christian community. Members of the catholic faith were encouraged to appreciate the benefits resulting from gay unions.
The initial document had been hailed as a turning point for the Catholic Church by those who supported the pope’s move to make the Catholic Church more inclusive. Several organizations expressed disappointment at the synod’s failure to support his vision of inclusiveness.
Addressing the bishops at the end of the meeting on Saturday, Francis acknowledged that he failed to win a spot for the gays and divorced couples who had remarried to join the rest of the flock at the Holy Communion table. He said that he would have been worried and saddened if everyone in the meeting had supported the draft document without considering its overall impact on the church’s core values, according to a report by the Associated Press News Agency. He challenged the bishops to be flexible, and to not be narrowly tied to the biblical writings, but to allow oneself to be surprised by God.
American Bishop Raymond Burke was among the synod members who voted against the draft document. He said a greater number of the synod fathers found the language to be unacceptable. He currently heads the Vatican’s equivalent of the Supreme Court. He told Buzzfeed in an interview that he expected to be demoted for his opposition to the pope, and will be transferred to Malta.
The synod’s decision to oppose the draft that would have allowed the gay and couples who divorced and then remarried to take holy communion drew mixed reactions from members of the Catholic church around the world. Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea told the Catholic News Agency that the document presented an attempt to push the church to change his doctrine. He added that while the church has never judged homosexual people, the practice is a deviation from the norm.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said the pope had opened himself to those who will place unattainable expectations on him during his papacy. Speaking in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, he said some of the high expectations will not be fulfilled, leading to disillusionment. George, who officially retires Nov.18, has been a strong opponent of gay marriage.
Even though Pope Francis failed to win a spot at the holy communion table for the gay and those who divorced and then remarried, some think that has made a major step towards making the Catholic church to be more inclusive. The fact that the synod agreed to discuss this topic, considered a taboo to many members of the church, makes some feel that there is room for continued discussion on this matter in future.
By Benedicto Ateku