It is nice to see that at least a few people are paying more attention to details during the latest round of "Pope-a-palooza." Far too many are still being incredibly naive and delusional about the Synod Pope Francis has been heading. Many of the reports in the mainstream media have taken the minor step of pointing out that the document being talked about is "preliminary." Sadly, virtually none of the mainstream sources have acknowledge that it is at this point strictly a matter of rhetoric. A few sources have even confused this report as having actual substance. The subtitle to a Salon piece read "The Church issued a document indicating a profound shift in doctrine on civil marriage and homosexuality." It is not only misleading but blatantly false. The "document" in question is a draft and does not contain anything that will alter official doctrine or practices.
One of the most talked about phrases from the draft that relates to the church's views on homosexuals is about the “gifts and qualities to offer.” Few have really looked at what that really means. Many of the mainstream sources are still bending over backwards to make it seem like this is a major breakthrough for homosexual rights. They have used terms like "earth shaking" and "revolutionary." It isn't. Even if it is taken at face value, which there is little reason to do so, it is at best a very, very tiny step in the right direction. Again, there is nothing to indicate a change in doctrine or policy. There is nothing to bar the church from continuing to lobby against homosexual right on a variety of fronts (marriage, adoption, workplace, housing, etc.). Homosexuality is still viewed as a sin. Basically, it is the equivalent of the clergy smiling at homosexuals while explaining they are welcome to sit in the pews, donate to the church, serve as volunteers for the church, but that they will still be receiving a one way ticket to hell from the church.
I still don't see how the current Pope is that different from his predecessors. There isn't any reason to see this latest round of reporting as an intentional move to generate positive PR for the church after decades declining membership and increasing criticism.
Below is a short list of some of the more intersting pieces floating around about the synod.
At the Vatican, a Shift in Tone Toward Gays and Divorce (New York Times, 10/13/14)
Vatican urges Catholics to recognize “gifts” same-sex couples have to offer (Salon, 10/13/14)
A new welcome for gay Catholics in the church (CNN Belief Blog, 10/13/14)
Under conservative assault, Vatican backtracks on gay comments (CNN Belief Blog, 10/14/14)
Never Mind, Catholic Church Will Probably Just Keeping Hating Gays Like Always (Wonkette, 10/14/14)
Everyone Keeps Falling for the Catholic Church's Good Cop/Bad Cop Routine (Slog, 10/14/14)
Initial Report From Vatican on Families Is Criticized (New York Times, 10/16/14)