A Wisconsin couple is providing a little more clarity on this week’s news that the Catholic Church is moving to be more welcoming to homosexuals.
Alice and Jeff Heinzen of Menomonie are the only Americans among a handful of couples serving as “lay auditors” at the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
The group’s draft report earlier this week appeared to use language more welcoming to gays, sparking commentators to note the Catholic Church was reassessing its position on homosexuality.
It isn’t. At least not to the extent the headlines suggested earlier this week.
Writing on a blog by the Diocese of La Crosse, Alice Heinzen described how the interpretation of the reports was likely mishandled.
As many of you are aware, the release of the mid-term report on Monday created quite a stir. After its release, it was given to 10 small groups who were assembled by language preference. There were three English groups, three Italian groups, two French groups and two Spanish groups. Each group had the task of combing through the text line by line to determine what edits, deletions, and additions were needed. The groups could also propose structural changes to any or all of the text (e.g. rearrangement, thematic suggestions…)
Our group included 15 synod fathers (five from Africa, seven from Asia, one each from Oceania, Europe and the U.S. (Cardinal Timothy Dolan was the U.S. representative.) In addition, there were 5 auditors (a married couple from Iraq, a marriage counselor from Lithuania, and Jeff and I) and one fraternal delegate (the President of the Protestant Evangelical congregation of Africa). Talk about an international gathering!
Our moderator was Cardinal Napier from South Africa and our reporter was Archbishop Martin from Ireland. These two fine men lead us through the process which was laborious. Because the mid-term report was poorly translated from Italian to English, the first struggle came in just understanding the meaning of many of the paragraphs. Compound that with the fact that the analogies used in the original text were interpreted differently by the various cultures in our small group and you have all the ingredients to ensure extended work sessions.
The main goal of our group became the creation of a report that would clarify for everyone that the doctrine on the Catholic Church on marriage and family life was going to remain intact and that it is possible for the Catholic Church to maintain its integrity using more pastoral means. We wanted to present a report that did not place Catholic doctrine in competition with the pastoral approach.
The latest report on which the Heinzens are involved — the Church and pastoral care — has two paragraphs on homosexuals:
On the subject of the pastoral care of persons with homosexual tendencies, the group noted that the Church must continue to promote the revealed nature of marriage as always between one man and one woman united in lifelong, life-giving, and faithful communion.
The group encouraged pastors and parishes to care for individuals with same sex attraction, providing for them in the family of the Church, always protecting their dignity as children of God, created in his image. Within the Church, they should find a home where, with everyone else, they hear the call of Jesus to follow Him in fidelity to the truth, to receive His grace to do so, and. His mercy when they fail.