After two weeks of meetings, Catholic bishops did not come to an agreement on a revised official stance on homosexuality. The church leaders also failed to come to a consensus on whether or not remarried Catholics—who had been divorced—could receive communion. The bishops were called to the historic synod by Pope Francis after new polls revealed that the Vatican’s views of family life were seen as dated. However, despite heated discussions that led some to believe that major shifts in how the church actively ministered in the LGBT community were coming, no significant new agreements were forged. Even a revised report on the meetings—which removed several statements from an earlier report that contained positive language concerning gays and lesbians—did not receive a two-thirds vote of support from the group of bishops.
The latest version of the report said that same-sex couples were not “"God's design of matrimony and the family," but cautioned, “Nonetheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy.” It’s unclear how close the bishops are to revising their position on allowing remarried divorced church members to receive Holy Communion, as the report only said that they will continue to examine the issue. Following the synod, Pope Francis gave a speech, saying, “The Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.” The more than 200 bishops will meet again next fall to discuss similar issues ... Discuss
Amid concerns about young people leaving the Church, another problem facing the Catholic church is a decline in nuns. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, there are currently under 50,000 religious Catholic sisters in the U.S., a 13 percent decline from 2010 and a 72 percent decline from 1965. Nuns are dying off and fewer young women are stepping in to replace them. As Timepoints out, part of the decline may come from the Vatican’s scrutiny of American nuns. Today’s nuns tend to be more progressive than the Vatican, which issued a crackdown on American nuns in 2012 ... Discuss
An interview with Pope Francis conducted by the founder of the Italian La Repubblica newspaper is making some serious waves. During a conversation with editor Eugenio Scalfari, the Pope reportedly said his advisors have told him that about 2 percent of Catholic Clergy are pedophiles, adding, "Among the 2% who are pedophiles are priests, bishops and cardinals. Others, more numerous, know but keep quiet. They punish without giving the reason. I find this state of affairs intolerable."
The Vatican, however, has taken issue with the article, noting that Scalfari doesn’t record interviews, and instead reconstructs them from memory afterward. Church officials say the three-page interview isn’t Pope Francis’ exact words and specifically disputes that he said that that cardinals were among the 2 percent of clergy that are pedophiles. Pope Francis was also quoted as saying that the crimes were “a leprosy in our house,” and vowed continued action against it. The headline for the piece read, "Pope says: Like Jesus, I shall use a stick against pedophile priests" ... Discuss
Though the big news from the Vatican this weekend was the canonization of both John XXIII and John Paul II, it was Pope Francis who also made headlines for comments he gave before the event. On Friday afternoon, Pope Francis met with a group of bishops from Africa and spoke out about controversial issues including divorce and abortion. Though he’s been vocal about the church’s opposition to abortion before (he recently called it an “unspeakable crime”), in many occasions, the pope has focused more on issues like poverty and service than controversial ones. He told the bishops:
Abortion compounds the grief of many women who now carry with them deep physical and spiritual wounds after succumbing to the pressures of a secular culture which devalues God’s gift of sexuality and the right to life of the unborn … The rate of separation and divorce is high, even in many Christian families, and children frequently do not grow up in a stable home environment. We also observe with great concern, and can only deplore, an increase in violence against women and children … All these realities threaten the sanctity of marriage, the stability of life in the home and consequently the life of society as a whole.
His Vatican reforms, teachings on helping the poor and emphasis on humility have made Pope Francis a popular figure, but a new poll has found that little has changed when it comes to actual behavior of the Catholic Church at large.
The Pew Research Center poll found that while 85 percent of American Catholics have a favorable view of Pope Francis, there has been no discernible rise in the number of Catholics who attend mass or confession. Even the overall number of people who identify as Catholic has remained pretty flat. Read More
A new Pew Research Center poll has found that a majority of American Catholics believe Pope Francis is ushering in positive changes for the Church, but he hasn’t actually caused them to change their behavior. About 85% of Catholic polled have a favorable opinion of the leader, with 71% saying his shift in Vatican direction is improving things for the Church. However, when it comes to actually expressing their faith—through attending mass, going to confession or volunteering—little has changed. Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior analyst at The National Catholic Reporter told The New York Times that though the numbers aren’t exactly positive, the fact the church isn’t losing members could be an indication of Pope Francis’ positive influence: “This could be interpreted as showing that Francis has had no impact. On the other hand, since church attendance has been declining since the 1950s, the fact that it did not go down could be considered a victory” ... Discuss