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The Synod on the Family that was held in Rome this past October concluded with a final report titled Relatio Synodi. For the first time, there was also an interim report published called, Relatio post disceptationem that was posted on the Vatican website. However, there are a number of confusing paragraphs in the interim report that contradict Catholic teaching on homosexuality, human sexuality and in whether to allow those that are “divorced and remarried” to receive the sacraments. We will explain later why this should concern all the faithful.

Here are three paragraphs in question from the Relatio post disceptationem (47-49). They come under the subheading of “Caring for broken families (the separated, the divorced who have not remarried, the divorced who have remarried).”

As to the possibility of partaking of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some synod fathers argued in favour of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, while others were in favour of a broader outlook with well-defined conditions, when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, access to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice — determined by the diocesan bishop — and a clear commitment in favour of the children. This would not be a possibility applied to all, but the fruit of a discernment […] on a case-by-case basis, according to the law of gradualness, which takes into consideration the distinction between a state of sin, the state of grace and […] extenuating circumstances.

The suggestion of limiting these persons to the practice of “spiritual communion” was questioned by many synod fathers. If spiritual communion is possible, why not allow them to partake in the Sacrament? Consequently, greater theological study was requested, beginning with the links between the Sacrament of Marriage and the Eucharist in relation to […] Church-Sacrament. Likewise, the moral aspect of the problem requires further consideration, listening to and illuminating the consciences of these persons.

The problems relative to mixed marriages were frequently raised in the interventions of the synod fathers. The differences in the matrimonial regulations of the Orthodox Churches creates serious problems in certain contexts which require suitable responses in communion with the Pope. The same applies to inter-religious marriages.

These are three more troubling paragraphs (50-52) from the same document that follow the subheading of “Providing for homosexual persons.”

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing […] them […] a place of fellowship in our communities? Oftentimes, they want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

The question of homosexuality requires serious reflection on how to devise realistic approaches to affective growth, human development and maturation in the Gospel, while integrating the sexual aspect, all of which constitute an important educative challenge. Moreover, the Church affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that the pastor’s outlook be pressured or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations based on gender ideology.

Without denying the moral problems associated with homosexual unions, there are instances where mutual assistance to the point of sacrifice is a valuable support in the life of these persons. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to […] children who live with same-sex couples and stresses that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

A number of questions need to asked about this Vatican post that as of today has not been deleted. Why is this working document that created so much confusion, controversy and even scandal still posted on the Vatican website? If the interim report was only meant to be a discussion paper, it nevertheless, contradicts Catholic teaching, and so why does it continue to be online along with the Relatio Synodi the final report? Who is running the Vatican website and to what purpose? Is this anti-Catholic unapproved report not going to influence the final meeting of the XIV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops scheduled for October 2015?

Today we remember in the liturgy Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen. St. Basil was truly one of fathers of the Church's social doctrine in caring for the poor, the marginalized and the destitute. He opened a hospital for the sick, but he was also a strong defender of the faith against the Arian heresy. Both saints contributed to the Church's understanding and appreciation of the Trinity. It's only appropriate that we post this disturbing issue about the Synod on the Family today. As part of the Church and of the mystical body of Christ through the sacraments, we are all called to be soldiers of Christ and protect his teaching and his Church. We have the responsibility to live the faith without compromise. We pray that through the teaching example of the Bishops Saints Basil and Gregory we too will be inspired to witness the truth and live it with charity and humility.

This article was originally posted on January 2, 2015 on the blog Everyday For Life Canada and is re-published with permission.

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