VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Synod on Synodality officials were unable to confirm to LifeSiteNews if the synod’s discussions on “pastoral” approach for “gay couples” were conducted in line with Vatican norms stipulating that “truly pastoral” care will promote the “need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.”
While giving the regular press briefing with details about the synod, an official was unable to succinctly affirm that the event’s discussions about “gay couples” were conforming to already established norms. This echoed recent events when a synod cardinal was unable to confirm that members were adhering to Church teaching in their discussions.
At a Vatican press office briefing on October 12, Synod officials provided an update to journalists on the progress of the various discussions and debates taking place behind closed doors, away from the eyes of the world.
Dr. Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication and head of the Synod information commission, stated that members had been dealing with questions on “sexual identity.” He stated that the topic was being “addressed with responsibility and understanding keeping faithful to the Gospel and to the teachings of the Church.”
According to Ruffini, the theme for those dealing with B1.2 was “how to incarnate the pastoral in the case of love among gay couples and divorced couples, while remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church.”
The Vatican communications lead official added how “some people asked for a greater discernment for the teaching of the Church in the field of sexuality, while others have said there is no need for this further discernment.”
Ruffini did not elaborate on what this “greater discernment” entailed. “All those who intervened on this topic said we must reject every form of homophobia,” he said, adding how “it was also said that many difficulties come from not knowing the reality and the personal journey of individuals.”
But while the Synod is discussing “pastoral” care for homosexuals, the matter has already been clearly articulated by the Church. In 1986, the then-Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released its document “On the pastoral care of homosexual persons,” which stated that a “truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.”
The CDF admonished bishops to ensure they, and any “pastoral program” in the diocese are “clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral.”
Such an authentic pastoral approach would “assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments, and in particular through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care,” the CDF stated.
Synod official answer questions citing ‘inclusive Church’
In light of this, LifeSiteNews posed a question to Dr. Ruffini at a press conference on October 16.
LifeSite highlighted Ruffini’s description of the synod discussions, adding how they came in the context of Cardinal Victor Fernández’s numerous interviews over the summer in which he expressed an openness to same-sex blessings.
LifeSite asked if the CDF’s 1986 note was underpinning the synod discussions and if they were being conducted in light of this Catholic teaching.
Ruffini was unable to confirm if this was the case, beginning his response by stating that he did not fully understand the question.
NEW: I asked if the #synod2023 discussions on how to be “pastoral” to “gay couples” were in line with #Vatican‘s 1986 text stating that a “truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.”
Here’s Dr. Ruffini’s response– pic.twitter.com/V2TKHtiPNB
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) October 16, 2023
In a lengthy response, Ruffini attested that “this is not a central topic of our conversation” – even though it has been highlighted as part of the Instrumentum Laboris’ discussion points and is on the worksheet for synod members.
“So if you think that we are discussing this primarily this is not the case,” he added.
We have talked about the topics that we have exchanges on, the topic of formation, the relationship between ordained and non-ordained ministry, what is the option for the poor, how colonialism may have … how the wounds of colonialism … how we can evangelize starting from their own culture, so we are speaking about this first and foremost, so the blessing of same-sex couples or gay couples is not the topic of the synod.
What Ruffini did admit was that “we can mention it from a different perspective,” saying how “if we are all children of God, if the Church is called upon to bear witness to the Gospel with everyone, if doesn’t mean that this is only the case with some.”
He appeared to echo the arguments made by Cardinal Fernández regarding blessings for same-sex couples saying how “we are speaking about the way the Church is one, the way in which it is a welcoming church, the way in which it is inclusive.”
“Sometimes we place ourselves on a pedestal,” Ruffini admonished.
Closing, he doubled down on his defense of the synod members’ intentions: “Everything is based on the Gospel and based on the Tradition of the Church. We are all faithful and believers.”
Synod officials have, during the regular press briefings, outlined the discussion topics of the day, and these have included not only “gay couples” but also the topic of welcoming those in “polygamous” relationships, married priests and female deacons.
While such questions are already decided and unchanging points of Catholic doctrine, they are nevertheless being discussed at the synod.
Questioned as to why such topics are being discussed with a view to effecting some change on unchangeable teaching, synod officials have then continually responded by stating that the main topic of the event is synodality itself.