Bishop Rhoades Holds Press Conference Regarding “Seismic Shift”

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): Bishop Kevin Rhoades with the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese held a press conference Tuesday afternoon, in regards to a preliminary report released out of the Vatican on Monday afternoon. Rhoades was addressing if the report signaled a radical shift about accepting gays into the church. The document stated that homosexuals have “gifts and qualities” to offer and that their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided homosexual couples with “precious” support.

During the news conference Rhoades said that the report is just a document. <span>“I do not think it is accurate to say that there is a “seismic shift'' taking place in the Church on issues that are being discussed. I agree with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, one of the Synod delegates, who said that the document is a draft and did not represent any kind of earthquake in Church teaching.”

The report released out of the Vatican does not change church doctrine, but it will guide a closed-door debate until a final document is issued Saturday. In the meantime, Rhoades said he thinks it's a good idea to discuss the report. “In my opinion, it is good to study and debate how the Church might do a better job in making people in the above-mentioned irregular situations feel welcomed as brothers and sisters in the Church. Here in our diocese, we have been working hard in this area. We have ministries for the separated, divorced, and the divorced and remarried and for persons with homosexual inclinations. I don't want anyone to feel excluded from the warmth of the Church's love which should mirror the love of Christ.”


The entire statement issued by Rhoades is below:

I appreciate this opportunity to share my thoughts about the midterm report from the Synod of Bishops, a

report that has been the subject of many news reports and commentaries.

I must begin with the declaration issued by the Vatican today in light of the reactions in the media to

yesterday's report. The Holy See Press Office reiterated that yesterday's report is “a working document which

summarises the interventions and debate of the first week and is now being offered for discussion by the

members of the Synod gathered in the small groups.” The Vatican explained that “often a value has been

attributed to the document that does not correspond to its nature.” I think this is very important to keep in mind.

I do not think it is accurate to say that there is a “seismic shift'' taking place in the Church on issues that are

being discussed. I agree with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, one of the Synod delegates, who said that

the document is a draft and did not represent any kind of “earthquake” in Church teaching.

I think it is important to look at the whole report and not just a few excerpts. It is important to see the

affirmation of Church teaching on marriage and the family and the importance of pastoral care of the family. At

the same time, clearly there is a lot of debate, not on doctrine, but on how the Church welcomes, reaches out,

and assists those who live in what we consider to be “irregular situations,” such as cohabitating couples,

divorced and remarried couples, and same-sex couples. How do we reach out with God's love and mercy to

those living in situations that fall short of the ideals of the Gospel? There is a lot of debate going on regarding

this issue. There seem to be disagreements among the bishops at the Synod regarding solutions to the pastoral

challenges facing the Church, especially in the West, because of the increased numbers of people not living

according to the Church's teaching on marriage and the family.

In my opinion, it is good to study and debate how the Church might do a better job in making people in the

above-mentioned irregular situations feel welcomed as brothers and sisters in the Church. Here in our diocese,

we have been working hard in this area. We have ministries for the separated, divorced, and the divorced and

remarried and for persons with homosexual inclinations. I don't want anyone to feel excluded from the warmth

of the Church's love which should mirror the love of Christ. I think many of the bishops at the Synod are also

concerned with the language the Church uses in regards to persons living in irregular situations, language that

may alienate, rather than attract, people.