Church’s Inclusive Tone Shifts in Opposite Direction

The historic acceptance of gay and lesbian Catholics signaled in a preliminary document issued by the Church last week was reversed Saturday when the two-week assembly on family in contemporary society came to an end.

“God is not afraid of new things. That is why he is continuously surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways,” the pope said in a sermon to nearly 70,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, as the ceremonial gathering of bishops, known as a synod, came to an end.

Conservative bishops reportedly pushed to dismantle the progressive and inclusive tone that the initial report struck on issues of same-sex marriage, cohabitation and divorce. The tone, they argued, would confuse the faithful and threaten traditional family values.

The pope welcomed the meeting’s diversity of strong, candidly-expressed opinions, and called the synod a “great experience.”

According to records released by the Vatican, a controversial article concerning gay and lesbian Catholics received a majority vote, but it did not acquire the necessary two-thirds majority usually needed for broad consensus and to be included in the final report.

The decision to include the articles despite garnering the necessary two-thirds majority is unusual, but experts said that their inclusion will ensure that the issues are discussed thoughtfully before next year’s synod.