Joan Frawley Desmond, is the Register’s senior editor. She is an award-winning journalist widely published in Catholic, ecumenical and secular media. A graduate of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family, she lives with her family in California..
While media coverage of the Synod has stirred expectations in some quarters that Pope Francis could extend a measure of pastoral support to same-sex unions, Cardinal Walter Kasper told EWTN's Raymond Arroyo in a June 11 interview that no such proposal would be on the table.
"The question is not what we say about homosexual unions," Cardinal Kasper told Raymond Arroyo. "The problem is how to help families when a boy or girl comes and has this attraction ... how to help them. And I think the council [synod], the council is a council about family; it’s a council about marriage and our Catholic understanding. Such a homosexual union is not a marriage and is not a family; and, therefore, I think it will not be a central point of the discussion."
Cardinal Kasper's statement offered a striking counterpoint to the unofficial deliberations of a "shadow synod,," comprised of a number of German, Swiss and French bishops, who addressed the same subject during a private meeting in Rome scheduled in May.
Today, the release of the "instrumentum laboris" -- the working document that will provide a framework for the synod's reflections on the family -- clarifies the actual lines of discussion on this matter.
According to CNA's breaking news report, the document offers no suggestion of moral equivalence between heterosexual and homosexual unions.
“[T]here is no foundation whatsoever to assimilate or establish analogies, even remotely, between homosexual unions and God’s design for marriage and the family,” persons with homosexual tendencies, the document says, “ought to be welcomed with respect and delicacy.”
At the same time, the document echoed the Church's previous insistence that “each person, regardless of their sexual orientation, must be respected in their dignity and welcomed with sensitivity and delicacy, both in the Church and in society.”
Meanwhile, Rocco Palma, remarks on the fact that the working document says nothing about contraception.