Family Synod: Another Influential, Supportive Cardinal?

Has the Catholic Church always tried to show respect for stable, same – sex partnerships? Cardinal Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil, president of the Brazil bishops’ conference, and one of three co-presidents of next month’s Family Synod, seems to think so.
Cardinal Damasceno Assis
A Brazilian, Portuguese language report at Folha de S.Paolo states that referring to the 2011 decision of the Brazilian Supreme Court which  affirmed the right same – sex couples to have their unions recognized in civil law, the Cardinal had this to say:
“It is a decision by the Supreme [Federal Court, the highest Constitutional Court in Brazil]. Of course, for the Church, it [homosexual union] cannot be equated to marriage, that is different. But, regarding respect for the stable union between these people, there is no doubt that the Church has always [sempre] been trying to do it this way“, said Damasceno Assis
The above English translation is taken from Rorate Coeli. Here’s the original Portuguese:
“É uma decisão do Supremo.  Claro que, para a igreja, não se pode equiparar a um casamento,  isso é diferente. Mas respeitar a união estável entre essas pessoas, não há dúvida de que a igreja sempre tem procurado fazer dessa maneiro”, disse Damasceno.)
Many LGBT Catholics would disagree strongly with the cardinal’s judgement that the Church has always been supportive of stable same – sex unions, especially those in Africa, who have seen some of their bishops celebrating draconian anti-gay legislation which foments hatred and violence against gay people, who dare not make public their relationships, stable or not. American gay Catholics who have been dismissed from church employment or ministry for affirming and protecting their stable relationships in civil marriage would also disagree with this .sanguine judgement
The statement however, is important, in the context of the upcoming synod on marriage and family, less for what it says about the Church in the past, as to what some senior cardinals and bishops would like it to be. Although the composition of the synod as a whole is depressing, at leadership level, there’s cause for hope. We now know that at least two of the Pope Francis’ group of eight cardinal advisers (Cardinals O’Malley and Gracias) have shown some degree of sensitivity or support for LGBT concerns, as well as a close friend and confidant of the pope (Cardinal Hummes). We can know add to that list, one of three co-presidents of the synod.
This does not mean that there will be any meaningful change coming directly out of the synod, next month. The chances of that are zero. What will happen though, is the start of more constructive, realistic discussion on these matters, which will likely lead to gradual, incremental change over time, initially in pastoral practice rather than formal doctrine.

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