Catholic Church expresses tolerance in homosexuality, divorce

Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-13 23:54:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's being described as a "seismic" shift within the Catholic Church. A new Vatican report states that the Church should welcome and appreciate the “gifts and qualities gays offer” to the Church.

As the global meeting of over 200 Bishops continues into its second week, people on both sides of the gay rights and same-sex marriage issue are surprised and shocked by this announcement from the Catholic Church. Anticipation is high to see if there will be any changes to the doctrine.

The Vatican is now taking a more accepting tone toward gays and lesbians, and is acknowledging that gay partnerships have merit.

Seth Anderson and his husband were the first Utah couple to get married last December when Utah's Amendment 3 banning same-sex marriage was overturned.

"When the religious leaders of a church that have a billion members worldwide tell their members that heaven expects them to be generous and kind in the valuation of their gay brothers and sisters that's a really good thing," Anderson said.

Anderson isn't Catholic, but hopes this move within the Catholic Church will lead other conservative churches to follow suit.

"The Mormon Church and the Catholic Church have a lot of ties politically, and hopefully the Mormon Church follows their lead in that stance towards kindness, love and inclusion that Mormons are capable of doing," Anderson said.

FOX 13 spoke with Salt Lake Bishop John Wester about this shift in how the Vatican views gay people.

"Some of the important things I hear coming out are that all persons need to be treated with respect and that's not a kind of a begrudging respect. What I hear that Pope saying and what I'm hearing in the news reports is that we need to be positive about people and support people and their goodness, the fact that they're children of God, in a very positive way I think that's what I'm hearing and then we'll see where all this leads us," Wester said.

Caroline Justice is studying to become a member of the Catholic Church and said she's happy about Monday's news.

"It was really sort of a reaffirmation and made me feel like I was choosing the right church and going along a path to following God in the way that made sense to me," Justice said.

This mid-term document released Monday also takes on a more lenient tone with regard to cohabitation and families of divorce.

The synod continues for another week. Once that's finished, Bishop Wester said we can all expect more information surrounding this issue and much more.