Catholic bishops Saturday backpedaled on what could have been a significant step forward in Vatican efforts to establish a more inclusive approach toward gays and lesbians in the church.
In a setback in Pope Francis' aspirations to take a more welcoming stance in ministering Catholic families, the bishops at the end of their two-week meeting of senior clerics removed text released in a draft document earlier this week that struck a conciliatory tone toward homosexuality.
The revised Vatican draft marked a dramatic shift in how the church would address gay and lesbian Catholics, saying "people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy." The original version of the document went as far to say that gay people "have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community." The document also included calls for wider acceptance of divorced and remarried Catholics.
The more inclusive text on both fronts each failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass. The synod approved all other portions of the report in a watered-down version of the text.
Pope Francis said the full document -- omitted paragraphs included -- should still be released in the name of transparency.
The Pope has already signaled it is time for the Catholic Church to become more open toward homosexuality, saying this summer "who am I to judge?" But even the draft with the more inclusive language would have done little to change the Church's teaching against homosexual acts and same-sex marriage.