Voices in the Catholic church are pushing for change in basic matters of the family. Where could this lead?
[Darris McNeely] The Roman Catholic Church, just a few days ago, completed what they called an extraordinary synod. Now, don't get thrown off by that word, "synod" – it just means "meeting". But it was an extraordinary meeting called by the pope, Pope Francis, of many of the cardinals of the Catholic Church, to discuss the family, and issues regarding and relating to the family and Catholicism, especially whether or not divorced Catholics can take the Mass, according to church teaching. Also on the agenda was discussion about gay marriage and homosexuality, and the church's long-held stances on those particular social matters. And so it was hailed prematurely as a time when there would be some breakthroughs made and changes made in the Catholic Church's stance on these issues. But by the time they came to the end of the meetings and issued their preliminary papers on it, it was evident that they had not really changed at all. In fact, they could not get the two-thirds votes of the bishops that were convened on this to make any change whatsoever in the teachings and the stance of the Catholic Church on these matters. Now it's going to be carried over into another meeting next year. Whether or not they will change, we'll have to wait and see. The present pope, Pope Francis, has made some rather interesting comments about those issues, basically indicating that he was perhaps a little bit more flexible on them than the church teaching or past stances have been, but no change has taken place.
As you watch a church go through openly, at least as much as it can be, discussions on topics like this – these volatile social issues of gay marriage, of homosexual conduct, and the state of marriage, and particularly as it relates to Catholic teaching and other traditional Catholic instruction and even Christian instruction on the subject – you marvel at what is taking place compared to the upheaval that is going on in society at large and what will be the outcome – it will be yet to be determined.
What's quite interesting, I think, for us to look at and to consider, is where will this lead? What is going to be the future of this when it comes to at least just the Catholic Church and their particular stance on that? Nobody can predict that, necessarily. But I think that you're going to see further pressure for the church to reform its teachings. I think that's one thing that there is going to be, pressure to reform. Now, pressure by itself, when it comes to Catholicism, is not going to be enough to make any radical changes there, but the pressure, I think, is going to continue on. And also, I think that there's going to be possible backlash that we might look for, even within the church, and its impact upon its particular policies and approach and its public persona that could create some type of further interesting situations when it comes to religious associations and religious matters as a whole.
To watch something like this take place within the church that has over 1.2 billion adherents around the world is quite instructive, it is fascinating, and it is very, very important in our understanding of something that is taking place in society at large and in a very, very large church in our world today, and its implications for the future could be significant.
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