news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | October 14, 2014 | 03:38 pm IST

Two hundred Roman Catholic Bishops are currently in a synod in Rome to discuss the theme of marriage and family.

In a document called Relatio Post Disceptationem that is currently under preparation and will be discussed by the wider Church for a year till the next synod in October 2015, Pope Francis has asked for compassion and understanding of homosexuality and divorced couples. “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge,” he had asked earlier in what was commented by some as an earthquake in the Catholic Church. He is the first Pope to use the word gay and the issue of sexual preferences is on the table.

While the bishops have made it clear there can be no change in the basic Catholic teaching on the permanence of the marriage bond and that such a bond can exist only between a man and a woman, Vatican-watchers say the emphasis maybe shifting from judgement to understanding.

First signs that Jorge Mario Bergoglio or Pope Francis was different came very early, on the first day, when he preferred to travel by public transport in Italy instead of the official car. That was followed by his moving away from all the trappings of Papal grandeur when he decided to live in a simple apartment as a servant of god and washing the feet of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, travelled by bus and even got on Twitter.

What Pope Francis has achieved today is nothing short of a major rethinking of the way the Catholic Church looks at family, live-in relationships and single-sex couples. Through a process of discussion and dialogue that comes halfway through the Vatican synod on the family, he has asked his Church leaders to forego criticism of gay unions and recognize that homosexuals may have “gifts and qualities.” 

Pope Francis Image

The document developed behind closed door meetings calls for compassion and understanding of single-sex unions, heterosexual couples who live together without marrying as well as divorced couples who enter into wedlock a second time. There are over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world with some 40 percent of them living in Latin America.

The on-going consultations are not required to come to any conclusion next Sunday when the synod ends. The paper is expected to be discussed in the wider Church and the synod will reconvene in Rome in October 2015 to finalise its recommendations on Church discipline. The Pope is free to accept or reject them. The synod is an advisory body without any legislative powers in the Vatican.

Earlier this year the Pope met families and victims of sexual abuse by priests, especially in the United States. At that time he had said he had zero tolerance for anyone indulging in such acts in the Church and would hold anyone responsible for it, no matter how high or powerful in the hierarchy. Prior to that he had got rid of many Vatican bankers and replaced them with professionals from around the world.

As the world watches with growing interest, the man who was once a bouncer in a night club in Buenos Aires has obviously not said his last word.

Read the Inquisitr's report: Pope Francis May Usher In New Era Of Catholic Views On Homosexuality

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