Vatican Issues Signs of More Tolerance

A synod held by Pope Francis and bishops from around the world reflected the continued effort by the Catholic church to be more tolerant and inclusive of gay and divorced Catholics, the New York Times reported Monday.

The meetings, which included an assembly of 200 bishops, intended to address family issues in contemporary society. According to a report released by the church on Monday, the week-long debates touched on the need for more tolerance for the faithful who do not strictly follow Catholic ideal. The report also called on pastors to be more welcoming of gays, and to avoid using language or behavior that might alienate divorced Catholics.

One week of debates remain for Pope Francis and the bishops, and it is possible that the current report could change, the synod’s special secretary said in a press conference.

While skeptics maintain that the report will not change church doctrine, it does have the potential to affect how faith is practiced in parishes across the world.

Vatican expert John Thavis called the document an “earthquake” in the church’s positions on gays.

“The document clearly reflects Pope Francis’ desire to adopt a more merciful pastoral approach on marriage and family issues,” he said.