The Vatican Just Took a Major Step Forward on Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce

The Vatican Just Took a Major Step Forward on Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce

The news: While Pope Francis may still be against the idea of same-sex marriage, the Catholic Church is finally making some baby steps to welcome LGBT members into the fold.

On Thursday, the Vatican unveiled a planning paper, called an Instrumentum Laboralis, for a worldwide conference of bishops in October with an unexpected recommendation: allowing children of same-sex couples to get baptized.

When it comes to adoption by same-sex couples, most church officials are "opposed to legislation which would allow the adoption of children by persons in a same-sex union, because they see a risk to the integral good of the child," reads the document. "However, when people living in such unions request a child's baptism, almost all the responses emphasize that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children."

What does this mean? Francis has previously signaled his willingness to consider gay clergy, but this document, a synthesis of previous discussions held at earlier bishops' conferences, makes it very clear that at the heart of the Catholic Church, "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."

Still, it reminds clergy members that LGBT members "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

A solution, in the church's eye, then seems to be accepting the children of LGBT couples. While the Vatican may not be open to actually legitimizing same-sex marriage, it believes the children of these unions shouldn't be punished by withholding the sacrament — and that means reaching out to these families to help them with the baptism process.

"Clearly, the Church has the duty to ascertain the actual elements involved in transmitting the faith to the child. Should a reasonable doubt exist in the capability of persons in a same sex union to instruct the child in the Christian faith, proper support is to be secured in the same manner as for any other couple seeking the baptism of their children," the document adds.

This is still a big move. It may not be the dramatic push of support for LGBT families some expected of the famously outspoken Pope Francis, but these small measures still matter. As the document says, the church is still trying to "find a balance between the church's teaching on the family and a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions."

And the document also suggests a more accepting approach towards the broader category of "canonically irregular situations," such as divorced couples. The pope has previously hinted at allowing remarried Catholic couples to receive communion, and again, while it might not seems like much, these measures mark a big departure from the centuries-old tenets of very conservative thinking.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

MORE FROM

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Paul Manafort is meeting with Senate investigators. Here’s what we know about his Russia ties.

Paul Manafort has Russia links dating back more than 10 years.

Yes, Donald Trump can fire Robert Mueller. Here’s how he can do it.

It's a complicated process, and it could get messy, but he can do it.

Charlie Gard’s parents say they want to take their son home to die

The parents are returning to court to fight for their right to take their son home.

Vatican shuts off historic fountains in the midst of devastating drought

Officials say it's the first time they can recall ever shutting off the Vatican's fountains.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Charlie Gard, human trafficking, Kushner denies collusion with Russia

What you need to know for Tuesday, July 25.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Paul Manafort is meeting with Senate investigators. Here’s what we know about his Russia ties.

Paul Manafort has Russia links dating back more than 10 years.

Yes, Donald Trump can fire Robert Mueller. Here’s how he can do it.

It's a complicated process, and it could get messy, but he can do it.

Charlie Gard’s parents say they want to take their son home to die

The parents are returning to court to fight for their right to take their son home.

Vatican shuts off historic fountains in the midst of devastating drought

Officials say it's the first time they can recall ever shutting off the Vatican's fountains.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Charlie Gard, human trafficking, Kushner denies collusion with Russia

What you need to know for Tuesday, July 25.