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Roman Catholic communique: What a difference a few days makes

Respect for our readers requires us to always focus upon absolute timeliness and accuracy in the family law-related information we provide to our audience in Arkansas and elsewhere.

That is essentially our mission statement concerning our blog entries, and adherence to it requires us to update without delay material we post that is subsequently altered in any significant way.

A communiqué from the Vatican that issued from Rome over the past weekend certainly necessitates a bit of expansion on our part regarding noteworthy details of a major announcement made last week by Roman Catholic authorities. As we noted in our October 16 blog entry, the first of two policy announcements made during the week had an almost seismic effect on many Catholics across the world for what was termed its "strikingly open language" on gays and divorced parties.

That language was the centerpiece of an initial draft that media reports widely interpreted as a growing church acceptance of same-sex couples and divorced and cohabitating partners. That interim report acknowledged gay couples in a welcoming and inclusionary way and also contained newly liberalized language regarding communion rights and the use of contraception.

Importantly, though, the language was subject to change in a final report, with the document that was released Saturday modifying earlier written statements in a fundamental way.

The takeaway: Gay rights groups and other persons seeking a softened stance in many areas of church doctrine were immediately and greatly disappointed by the final version. One commentator noted that the hope that was inspired by the initial report "was crushed by the removal of that language in the final document."

As noted in a weekend Reuters report on the subject, much of the welcoming tone and explicit language of the earlier draft was absent in what ultimately replaced it. Among other things, a section initially entitled "Welcoming homosexuals" is now termed "Pastoral attention toward persons with homosexual orientations." The report also states that same-sex marriage rights are not included in "God's plan for matrimony and the family."

Pope Francis offered comments on the report, noting the obvious tension that continues to exist between church conservatives and progressives on many issues of fundamental importance.

Source: Reuters, "Catholic bishops drop moves to accept gays," Philip Pullella, Oct. 18, 2014

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