Catholic Bishops Vote Not Welcome Gays Yet Spoke Kindly of Them in the Past

Bishops and Cardinals attend a morning session of a two-week synod on family issues at the Vatican, on Oct. 13, 2014. (Photo: Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Catholic Bishops Will Not Welcome Gays Yet Spoke Kindly of Them

Catholic bishops rejected a landmark change Saturday in the rigid stance on gays and divorcees, revealing enormous gaps within the church at the end of a two-week meeting.

The synod’s final statement failed to include remarkably conciliatory language revealed a week ago that would have welcomed the “gifts and qualities” of gay Catholics and called on pastors to “avoid any language or behavior” that could discriminate against divorced Catholics.

While the language on gays had been softened during discussion in the meeting’s last days, the final document failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote it needed. The bishops did, however, praise conjugal love — love within the bounds of traditional marriage — calling it “one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.”

Still, the failure to reach a consensus on broader-reaching language, is a failure for the more tolerant tone Pope Francis has struck since taking the role of pontiff more than a year ago. Last year, the pope made waves when, in response to a question about whether gays could be good Christians, he asked, “Who am I to judge?”

After the vote Saturday, Francis warned bishops against what he called “hostile rigidity” in their thinking on these topics, his remarks earning a five-minute standing ovation.