The Roman Catholic Church, led by Pope Francis, convened at the Vatican to release a document concerning the changing state of the American family. Roman Catholic bishops called upon the rest of the Catholic community to accept gay individuals, unmarried couples, divorced individuals, and the children that belong to these untraditional families.
What does this mean for families worldwide?
The report does not change any fundamental church doctrine, and the document is open to debate by the church assembly. This may be a move away from condemning untraditional family scenarios with efforts to approach these situations with understanding and openness.
One of the biggest issues taken up in the meeting is that whether or not those that are divorced and have remarried are eligible to receive communion in church. Typically, the only way a person would be able to end their marriage in the eyes of the church would be if they got their marriage annulled.
The Pope and bishops seek to recognize the values that cohabitation and civil unions may have without abandoning how the Church regularly considers marriage. They claim that those in same sex relationships can offer significant support and positive qualities to the Catholic community.
The Church further claims that the fundamental idea of behind the acceptance of nontraditional families is that the individual needs to be considered outside of their sexual orientation.
After reading the document out loud at a gathering of bishops, priests, and other laypeople, many of those present objected to the new beliefs and believe that the church may be betraying its basic doctrine of marriage. Groups of bishops across the church will analyze the document and issue a final report to be distributed worldwide as a guide for all other Roman Catholics to follow.
Even if the document is not conclusive, many gay rights groups across the world have expressed hope at the results of the document and how it can affect change in the church. As the church continues to debate the topic, those that are unable to get a divorce due to their religious beliefs may soon find the door opened for their separation.