If the rumblings emanating from the Catholic Church’s farcical two-week synod in the Vatican are any indication, we might soon be seeing a change in the way the clergy interacts with and talks about gay people. Whereas now the Church taught that homosexual acts are sinful and that same-sex marriage should be outlawed, the Church soon might teach that homosexual acts are sinful and that same-sex marriage should be outlawed, but will do so in a more polite way.
Based on the media’s reaction, you could be forgiven for thinking something “extraordinary,” or “revolutionary” is going on, or that a “bombshell” is about to be dropped, or that an “earthquake” is happening, or that at least a remarkable non-tectonic “shift” is occurring. Last year, Pope Francis became a darling of liberals when he said of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” It was far from an approbation of homosexuality, but people have become so accustomed to stern admonitions against it from the Vatican that anything shy of outright condemnation has the tendency to be viewed positively or even as a major change.
Spurring this “earthquake” narrative was a synod draft report that said in part, “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” It added, “Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.”
But the report also said this:
“The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.”
Nevertheless, it is the “gifts and qualities” comment that’s received the most press despite the fact that it’s hardly controversial. Indeed, it’s a statement of fact, and for this the Vatican was praised simply for making it. But lest there be any confusion whether the Church remains steadfastly anti-gay, the Vatican issued a statement on Tuesday in which it reminded everyone the draft report is a “working document.” Furthermore, “The Vatican also said that it wanted to welcome gays and lesbians in the church, but not create ‘the impression of a positive evaluation’ of same-sex relationships, or, for that matter, of unmarried couples who live together.”
There you have it. The “extraordinary” is ordinary; the “revolutionary” is status quo; the “bombshell” is a dud; the “earthquake” is just an 18-wheeler passing by; and the “shift” isn’t happening. Homophobia prevails in an institution that’s been one of the most homophobic of the last 2,000 years. And it’s going to fight like hell to stay that way for the next 2,000.