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Memo To The Vatican: Get Real

Eileen McNamara: "By what measure of rational thought is a draft document that asks about homosexuals -- and only asks -- whether the Catholic Church is 'capable of welcoming these people' a cause for celebration?" Pictured: Pope Francis rubs his face during a morning session of a two-week synod on family issues, at the Vatican, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Gay rights groups are cautiously cheering a shift in tone from the Catholic Church toward homosexuals. (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)
Eileen McNamara: "By what measure of rational thought is a draft document that asks about homosexuals -- and only asks -- whether the Catholic Church is 'capable of welcoming these people' a cause for celebration?" Pictured: Pope Francis rubs his face during a morning session of a two-week synod on family issues, at the Vatican, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Gay rights groups are cautiously cheering a shift in tone from the Catholic Church toward homosexuals. (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)
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Memo to the Vatican: Tolerance and mercy are a pathetic substitute for justice and equality.

It is nice, though, that the bishops are debating whether to include in their final document an acknowledgment that 'homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.' Revolutionary stuff, that.

And, make no mistake: A disdainful compassion toward the world’s “intrinsically disordered” is the most that is suggested by a working document on family life still being drafted by a gathering of anything-but-like-minded Catholic bishops in Rome.

That a softening of language toward homosexuals might presage a sea change in Catholic doctrine, a delusion promulgated by an increasingly unhinged secular press corps, had right-wing bishops from Poland to South Africa howling in protest this week.

“It’s not the final word, and we’re going to have a lot to say about it. And there were some that said we probably in our final statement need to be much more assertive about the timeless teaching of the church,” cautioned New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, tamping down feverish fantasies of rainbow flags flying outside Catholic sanctuaries.

To refresh: Those timeless teachings include the belief that anything other than a heterosexual orientation “is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder” and that those who act on their homosexual impulses are not “people of God” and “shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

It is nice, though, that the bishops are debating whether to include in their final document an acknowledgment that “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” and that “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support” between same-sex couples. Revolutionary stuff, that.

If any love affair is “intrinsically disordered,” it is the one that starry-eyed reporters have been carrying on with Pope Francis since his election last year. Desperate for any sign that he is the “transformative” figure they prematurely declared him to be, they interpret every change in “tone” as confirmation that married priests, ordained women and a Gay Men’s Chorus are coming soon to a Saint Mary’s near you.

That Pope Francis drives an old car and lives in a modest apartment is a refreshing change from the imperious pontiffs of the past, but symbolic shifts in tone do not signal fundamental change in doctrine. There is nothing radical about reminding Catholics that Jesus taught his followers to hate the sin but to love the sinner. Redefining what constitutes sin? That would be radical, and Pope Francis has done nothing to suggest that is on his agenda.

By what measure of rational thought is a draft document that asks about homosexuals — and only asks — whether the Catholic Church is “capable of welcoming these people” a cause for celebration?

Desperate for any sign that [Pope Francis] is the 'transformative' figure they prematurely declared him to be, [reporters] interpret every change in 'tone' as confirmation that married priests, ordained women and a Gay Men’s Chorus are coming soon to a Saint Mary’s near you.

What level of denial is required to take seriously the draft’s assertion that “the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.”

To refresh: The priority the church has given to those “little ones” includes firing their fathers from teaching at parochial schools when they get married, firing their mothers when they get pregnant, and expelling the children themselves when the existence of their same-sex parents becomes known.

Smitten by the charismatic Jesuit from Argentina, reporters are the only ones who see a revolution brewing among the old men in robes gathered in Rome, agonizing about whether divorced Catholics should be welcomed at the communion rail. Everyone else knows they are already there, right alongside Heather’s two mommies and the CCD teacher who swallowed her birth control pill on the way to Mass — all of them waiting for Pope Francis to catch up.


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Eileen McNamara Cognoscenti contributor
A Pulitzer Prize-winning former columnist for The Boston Globe, Eileen McNamara is the author of "Eunice, The Kennedy Who Changed the World."

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