Synod, October 11: some participants call for ‘greater discernment’ of Catholic teaching on sexual morality
October 12, 2023
As participants in the Synod on synodality continued their deliberations on the Synod’s second topic—“How can we be more fully a sign and instrument of union with God and of the unity of all humanity?”—some called for a “greater discernment” of Catholic teaching on sexual morality.
At the October 11 press conference, Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, said that Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, had offered a meditation to Synod participants, during which he spoke about the war between Israel and Hamas.
Ruffini also revealed that a “small working group” had met on October 10 at Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican hotel that has served as Pope Francis’s residence. Members of the working group, including the Pope and Cardinal Konrad Krajewski (prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity), had lunch with some of Rome’s poor.
Ruffini and others taking part in the press conference said that Synod participants were discussing
- “the desire for a Church that is pro-poor, that is humble, that lowers herself, and that walks with the poor”
- war, with “strong appeals for peace”
- sexual identity
“The methodology we are using is directed towards listening to the Lord, His Word, His presence in every baptized person, and this allows us to be open to the other and to the others,” Cardinal Gérald Lacroix of Québec said at the press conference. “We can find nuances, change what we think, and that is how we see that God is working and is working in all people.”
October 11 was the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, and during the Synod’s proceedings on October 11, Cardinal Lacroix read out the address with which Pope St. John XXIII opened the Council. In the address, St. John XXIII famously said that Catholic doctrine is immutable, even if its expression can change over time:
What is needed is that this certain and immutable doctrine, to which the faithful owe obedience, be studied afresh and reformulated in contemporary terms. For this deposit of faith, or truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing; the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else.
Catholic sexual teaching
Despite the Synod’s commemoration of St. John XXIII’s 1962 address upholding the immutability of Catholic doctrine, some Synod participants called for “greater discernment on the Church’s teaching on sexuality,” said Ruffini. Others, said Ruffini, believe “there is no need for further discernment.”
Participants, he continued, were asking themselves “how to embody pastoral care regarding love among gay couples, among the divorced, while remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church.”
“More or less all those who spoke on these issues said that we must reject all forms of homophobia,” added Ruffini, who said that some participants believe “that many difficulties arise from not knowing the reality and the personal journey of individuals.”
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