The Relatio: So This is How It Works?


Okay, so, as an Episcopalian, I’ve obviously got a complicated relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. But I wouldn’t spend so much time on this site if I didn’t have faith in its ultimate goodness. And that faith is all about days like yesterday.

I was already reeling from this (from Patricia Miller):

Among the examples of “harsh” rhetoric that bishops discussed as doing more harm than good in terms of “invit[ing] people to draw closer to the church” were “living in sin” for cohabitating couples, as well as calling homosexuality “intrinsically disordered” and references to a “contraceptive mentality.”

The rejection of this last phrase is especially significant because it’s not merely an outdated expression like “living in sin”—it was Pope John Paul II’s seminal contribution to the church’s theology of women and reproduction over the last 35 years.

Then came this:

50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

     51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. 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.

     52. 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. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

I’m aware that some bloggers and columnists are trying to downplay the significance of theRelatio post disceptationem and the Synod discussions, that people who just yesterday were slinging around the phrases “contraceptive mentality” and “intrinsically disordered” are now saying that nothing has changed. People who just yesterday would have nodded at the idea that gay marriage comes from the father of lies are now saying of course they recognize the good in gay relationships. And you know what? I don’t care. How does the phrase go? Hypocrisy is vice’s tribute to virtue?

I’m also aware that the Relatio is just a midterm document, that it’s just meant to provoke discussion, that it could all be taken back this week or next year. And I’m aware that some folks within the Synod, like Cardinal Burke, are already calling for it to be taken back.

But I’ve got patience, and days like yesterday nurture my faith. This is how it works.

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