April 14, 2016
Throughout the two “synods on the family” held in Rome in October 2014 and October 2015 there was intense pressure for the Church to change her immutable teaching on homosexuality and homosexual unions. This pressure came not only from “LGBT” activists but also from those responsible for preparing the official synodal documents.
The approach to homosexual unions in the synod documents
See the appendix at the end of the article for fuller extracts from the synodal documents.
- The Extraordinary Synod’s interim Relatio post disceptationem affirmed “that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman”. This implies that there is some footing on which same-sex unions can be considered legitimate.
- This approach was vigorously opposed by many synod fathers. The fruits of their opposition can be seen in the Extraordinary Synod’s final report (Relatio synodi). In this document the formulation above was replaced with a statement taken from a previous ecclesiastical document: “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”
- In June 2015 the Synod Secretariat published the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document of the Ordinary Synod. In paragraph 8 the Synod Secretariat once more suggested that homosexual unions had some degree of legitimacy. They did this by acknowledging the necessity of “defining the specific character of such unions in society” while calling for “a more thorough examination of human nature and culture which is based not simply on biology and sexual difference”.
- The synod fathers rejected this approach for a second time, as can be seen in the final report of the Ordinary Synod, which repeats the same magisterial teaching as the final report of the Extraordinary Synod.
Amoris Laetitia reintroduces the rejected approach
We have seen above that both the Relatio post discepatationem of the Extraordinary Synod and the Instrumentum Laboris of the Ordinary Synod included passages that suggested that homosexual unions, while not equal to marriage, nonetheless have some degree of legitimacy. The synod fathers rejected this approach: no such passages are found in the final reports of either synod.
The rejected approach has however been reintroduced in Amoris Laetitia which states, in paragraph 52, that:
“We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, may not simply be equated with marriage.”
(i) that “same-sex unions” are one of the “great variety of family situations”
(ii) that “same-sex unions” offer a “certain stability” and
(iii) that “same-sex unions” can be “equated” with marriage on some level, if not “simply”.
Furthermore the paragraph states that “only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life.” To state that only marriage has a “plenary role” necessarily means that other forms of union do have some role to play in society.
The Voice of the Family coalition has decades of collective experience lobbying at the United Nations, the European Union and at the level of national government. We know very well the significance of such phrases, which are deliberately inserted into documents so that they can later be exploited to pursue a radical ideological agenda.
It is for this reason that governments of many nations, with the assistance of pro-life and pro-family campaigners, have fought for decades, and are still fighting, to keep such terms out of official documents.
The tragic significance of their appearance in a document promulgated by the Pope cannot be overemphasised.