The Archbishop of Dublin has warned Irish Catholics not to expect too much from the current Synod as the church rowed back on a more open stance to homosexuality.
He has also briefed his flock not to expect immediate changes in the Church’s attitude to communion for divorced Catholics.
Dr Diarmuid Martin made his comments as Catholics digested a final document statement from the Vatican Synod on the Family which wrapped up in Rome on Saturday night.
The Irish Times reports that the latest Synod publication, in a three year review program, appeared to backtrack on the mid-Synod document concerning homosexuals issued on Monday.
The paper reports that Monday’s document spoke of ‘welcoming’ homosexuals into the church family.
While the final document warned against ‘discrimination’ against gays, it added that there can be no comparison between ‘God’s design’ for men and women and the concept of same sex marriage.
The final document stated: “Some families live out the experience of having someone with a homosexual tendency in the family.
“With regard to this, the Synod Fathers asked themselves what would be the opportune pastoral response to deal with this situation, bearing in mind the teaching of the Church.
“There is no reason to assimilate or establish analogies, even remote ones, between homosexual unions and God’s design for marriage and the family.”
The final Synod document also warned, as predicted by Dr Martin, that any proposed change to the ban on the divorced and remarried receiving communion ‘needs to be further considered.’
Archbishop Martin told the Irish Times that this Synod on the family been very ‘different.’
But he stressed it would be misleading to suggest that it will lead to immediate change in relation to ‘celebrity’ issues such as homosexuality and communion for the divorced.
He explained: “There can be a development of doctrine in the sense that we can understand the same doctrine in a different way, but a change whereby, overnight, you say that what was wrong is now right, that is just not on the cards.
“This Synod has been radically different because, thanks to Pope Francis, it has been marked by a genuine dialogue and an at times heated debate.
“However, the Pope has so far given no indication as to where he stands on anything for the reason that this is a three year long process that will be concluded only when the Pope himself issues his post-Synodal apostolic exhortation, after the second leg of this Family Synod in October next year.”
On the issue of divorced people receiving communion, Dr Martin admitted it is also an ‘unanswered question.’
He added: “There are unanswered questions about what sort of recognition you give to second marriages, to people living together all their lives.
“There is a very clear recognition that young people are living together, for shorter or longer periods, that people live in short term relationships, experience failed marriages and there are the divorced and the remarried.
“How do we talk to these people, how do we tell them to reflect, that committing themselves to one another is an important value, how should the Church talk to young people?
“Irish Catholics come from a very rigid system which is either black or white, rigourism and laxism, we are not good at dealing with the ‘grey’ areas, we don’t know how to live in the grey area.”