In a new document exploring the Catholic Church’s position on gays, as well as divorce and birth control, the Vatican seemed to radically soften its stance towards homosexuals. However, the newly released translation looks like it pulls the welcome mat out from under them. At the very least, the new translation changes what might have been called the exploration of a more effusive welcome for cautious tolerance.
The Vatican and the Catholic Church have traditionally not been the most, um, welcoming when it comes to homosexuals. In the past, they condemned homosexuality as sinful. More recently, they sternly frowned on gay sex and gay marriage, though technically not on homosexual tendencies; however, that unusual distinction is lost on some Church leaders and members. In any case, there has not been much of a welcome for gays in the Catholic Church.
The document’s official language is Italian. The original English translation talked about “welcoming” gays while the new English translation talks about “providing” for gays. When talking about a space for gays in the church, the previously-used word “fraternal” was eliminated altogether. And so on.
The document, which is actually more like a progress report, comes from the Synod of the Bishops in what will be a two-week process. It reflects the conversations taking place among the 200 Catholic leaders and does not reflect changes in official policy. However, the backpedaling on this conversation is not a good sign for gays and gay allies who are really hoping (actually praying) for true change on this issue in the Catholic Church.
However, this is not surprising for an institution as old and slow to change as the Catholic Church. Many people find solace in the seemingly immovable Catholic traditions while many others find their faith tested by the Church’s inability to adapt at a modern pace. Time is something the Catholic Church thinks is on its side, but I suppose only time will tell.