Second draft of document on accepting gays bows to pressure from bishops

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A new draft of a report by the Vatican of which an earlier incarnation was hailed as groundbreaking because it appeared to open a dialogue about gay people, and soften the church’s stance on gays.

A Vatican document said on Monday that although no official change in stance will be made with regards to same-sex marriage, the Catholic Church must learn to respect the positive aspects of gay couples.

Earlier this week it was widely reported that the preliminary paper by bishops which looked at family issues, indicated a softening of stance by the Vatican on gay rights.

However a new draft of the report, translated from Italian into English and released on Thursday, actually signalled that the stance was not changing, as it initially appeared.

The section originally titled “welcoming homosexuals”, was retitled “providing for homosexual persons”, and the overall tone of the document has changed.

The initial versio read: “Welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities.” Thursday’s draft asked if the church is “capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing … them … a place of fellowship in our communities.”

According to the Vatican, the changes had been requested by English-speaking bishops.

The meaning may change again with a third draft, and a final report will go to a vote. If approved it would be sent to diocese around the world.

Italian news agency ANSA reports a joint statement read: “In relation to homosexuals, moreover, the need for a welcome was highlighted, but with the right care, in order not to create the impression of a positive evaluation of this approach on the part of the Church. The same attention had been called for in respect of cohabitation.”

Pope Francis urged clergy at the Synod last week to speak “without concerns of human respect and without fear.”

Speaking to reporters in July last year, Pope Francis said that gay people should not be judged or marginalised and should be integrated into society.

In March, Pope Francis declared: “matrimony is between a man and a woman”.