Synod backtracks on gay ‘welcome’ in revised translation

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Language toned down to ‘providing for’ homosexuals in new version of controversial ‘relatio’

The Holy See today issued a “revised” English version of the synod’s controversial ‘relatio’ discussion document backtracking on the welcoming language used about homosexuals.

This was further indication of the tensions prompted by the ongoing Vatican synod on the family .

On Monday, the Synod had made worldwide headlines when the ‘relatio’ document had stated: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people , guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?”

By lunchtime today, the following changes had been made to that translation: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing them a place of fellowship in our communities?”

Likewise, that section of the document which deals with marriage annulments has also been significantly changed. For example, Monday’s translation reads: “Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible”

In the “revised” version issued today, that has become: “Various synod fathers emphasised the need to make annulment cases more accessible and less time-consuming.”

Significantly there is a clear difference between “welcoming” and “providing” for homosexuals. Likewise, marriage annulments that are “less time consuming” rather than “flexible” just sound like marriage annulments that will be harder to get.

Conservative forces

The only translation to have been “revised” was the English language one, prompting speculation that conservative forces in the anglophonic world, perhaps in North America, Africa and Asia, were behind this unprecedented development.

The Holy See repeated today that the only “official” text is the original Italian one. On homosexuals, the Italian text asks if we are able to “accogliere queste persone (these people)”. According to the Hazon Garzanti dictionary, “accogliere” means “to receive, to welcome ... someone with open arms”, which is different to “providing” for someone.

Asked about the changes during a media briefing today, papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi was unwilling or unable to indicate just who had called for them.

At the same briefing, the Cardinal of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn, was asked specifically if the church now no longer holds that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”.

“The basic principle is that we first look at the person and not the sexual orientation,” he replied.

Paddy Agnew, The Irish Times, 16 October 2014