by David Hennessy
Gay rights groups have been disappointed that conservative bishops rejected Pope Francis’ proposals for wider acceptance of gay people at a synod in Rome at the weekend.
Although more than half voted in favour, the call to “accept and value” failed to win the backing of two-thirds of the bishops at a synod in Rome.
Two other paragraphs suggesting divorced and remarried Catholics could receive communion also failed to pass. The synod will meet again in a year’s time for further discussion.
Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric Cardinal Vincent Nichols, talking on BBC Radio 4, insisted the setback was “not an end” and said that he was hopeful a further synod next year would reinstate the more welcoming tone towards gay people.
Cardinal Nichols said: “We have had synods in the past, what is different with this one is that this is not an end and [The Pope] had said so very clearly – he tore up the rule book.
“By the rule book those votes should have removed paragraphs from the text if it were the end of a synod.
“He said no, no, we are releasing the lot, we tell people … what the balance of voting is, this document – all of it – is the starting point for the next synod, please go away and reflect on these things, talk to people, talk about where we are at this point because this document is part of a process of dialogue and discernment for the future of the Church.”
The cardinal also said that he believes the declaration did not go “far enough”, saying he was disappointed that it had not used much stronger language about the need to “respect, welcome and value” people in same-sex relationships.
More than 200 bishops from around the world spent two weeks at the Vatican discussing some of the most controversial issues around family life. Despite the result, Pope Francis praised the work of the synod.