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Utah Catholics Following Synod Discussions on Homosexuality, Divorce

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Dan Bammes
Fr. Carl Schlichte, pastor of the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Newman Center

  Draft documents being considered by a meeting of Catholic bishops in Rome are showing a new openness in the church toward homosexuals and divorced people. Catholic priests and church members in Utah are watching the meeting closely.

The documents being considered by the synod conducted by Pope Francis at the Vatican talk about homosexuals having “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community.”  They also emphasize the rights of the children of same-sex couples.  And they talk about care for “wounded families” in the context of “real world problems.”

Father Carl Schlichte with the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Newman Center at the University of Utah says he doesn’t know if this new conversation will mean more gay or divorced people showing up for services – but he says the door is always open.

“Those people are always welcome in the church," Father Schlichte tells KUER in an interview, "and some have ignored church teaching as, cohabiting couples, for example, in a less-than-ideal situation, those who have remarried without going through an annulment process, have kind of made up their own minds, so it’s reaching out to formally welcome and include those folks who’ve been made to feel unwelcome by statements, certainly higher-up and on local levels as well.”

Father Schlichte points out the basic teaching of the church on these issues hasn’t changed.  He says the discussions going on now in Rome are setting the agenda for another synod next year that could potentially make changes in church policy.  And he points out that the conversation led by Pope Francis this week is building on the work of his predecessors, Benedict the 16th and John Paul the 2nd.

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