BANGALORE : A preliminary report of the ongoing synod (council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application) released earlier this week, signals a significant shift in the Catholic church’s approach towards homosexuals. While the discussion has drawn criticism from many conservative quarters, there is a sense of cautious optimism among the gay community in Bangalore.
At the synod, one of the titles of discussion is, ‘Welcoming homosexuals into the church’ and adds, “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.”
The synod was convened earlier this month to discuss the church’s stance towards controversial issues such as homosexuality, marriage annulment, contraception and abortion.
Fr John Sekhar of the Franciscans congregation observes, “We are yet to know what outcome this discussion will yield, but we hope it is positive.”
On the other hand, Fr Divia Paul believes that the church has always been accepting of homosexuals and looking at them from the eyes of Jesus, who befriended outcasts. “The synod will have to continue to have an open mind and discuss all this in the light of what a family is. I do not think the church will water down on the concept of family. A family consists of father, mother who come together to procreate. We will have to wait and see what the decision is. I think the church will stick to its guns about the sanctity of marriage, but will welcome those with different sexual orientation considering that the church is meant to be a place where anyone can come,” he said.
Gay rights groups anticipate a shift in tone resulting in the inclusion of the homosexual community.
Says Vinay Chandran of Bangalore-based Swabhava Trust, “I have personally come across many priests and pastors who have belligerently condemned homosexuality in the past. This is particularly depressing for homosexuals on whom religion has a great influence, for they are looked down upon. Considering this, it will be good if the Church accepts homosexuality.”
But at the same, he disapproves the delayed effort taken by the church in favour of the community.