The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote.
The three paragraphs, which in the past would not have been included in a final synod report, speak of: 1) permitting certain remarried divorced Catholics to receive communion after a period of penitence, 2) invoking a deeper call to understanding of the issue of spiritual communion for the divorced and remarried and 3) receiving homosexuals “with respect and gentleness.” However, the document has removed the much-criticized language that spoke of “valuing” the homosexual orientation.
With obvious input from cardinals who objected strenuously to the midterm report, and insisted on the publications of the summaries of the ten working groups, the final document contains several very positive developments.
It notes for instance that “Openness to life is an intrinsic requirement of conjugal love.” And in that context promotes natural fertility regulation. It also urges a rediscovery of the encyclical Humanae Vitae.
The final document or Relatio Synodi addresses parents' freedom to “choose the kind of education to be given to children according to their beliefs.” It notes that the Church plays a supportive role to parents in the education of their children, especially in faith.
Some of the language criticized as ambiguous by Synod Fathers in the original Relatio, including the use of the term “gay” and that spoke of unqualifiedly “welcoming” homosexuals while “valuing” their orientation, is no longer present. Rather the document speaks of the “pastoral care” for “people with homosexual orientation.”
While the document stresses accepting persons with homosexual tendencies and avoiding “every sign of unjust discrimination,” it says clearly “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family.”
Moreover, the Relatio Synodi calls it “totally unacceptable” that some pastors of the Church suffer pressure from international bodies who make financial aid to poor countries conditional upon the acceptance of “'marriage’ between persons of the same sex.”
The document notes that the Church recognizes the family as the basic cell of human society.
It quotes at length Jesus’ words reaffirming the “indissoluble union between a man and a woman” in marriage. It recalls the approach of Christ to sinners, to approach them with love, but always to lead them to repentance and conversion.
Nevertheless, although the proposal is contentious among the Fathers, it calls for easing of the process of annulment, and consideration for communion for Catholics remarried after divorce in restricted circumstances.
The voting numbers of each of the paragraphs has been published by the Vatican.