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Defining acceptance in the church

Helen S. grew up in traditional Catholic family. She has six siblings. She went to mass every Sunday. She went to Catholic school.

During high school, Helen broke this mold. She came out as a lesbian.

The Vatican’s most recent “Report After Debate” includes a section called “Welcoming Homosexual Persons.”

The report was released after cardinals and bishops gathered for two weeks of meetings in Rome.

“I think actually bringing forth discussion on the issue is a good move, especially since the discussion seems to be more aimed at acceptance and understanding,” said the 19-year-old English major.

Several media organizations like Time, Newsweek and the Huffington Post have showcased the contrasting reactions to the document from human rights activists and conservative Catholics.

The report stated: “without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions, it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.”

The section does not bring any radical changes to church teachings. Catholicism still opposes same-sex marriage but now acknowledges the benefit of partnerships.

“I think the discussion could benefit by including more Catholics who are gay, but since in the past the church has been somewhat dismissive of them there probably aren’t very many who are open and willing to talk about it,” she said.

Helen said that she is hopeful that the Vatican will continue to soften its position on homosexuality.

“I think if this kind of talk had been going on when I was in Catholic school, rather than seeing signs around school supporting amendments to ban gay marriage, I would have had a much easier time accepting myself,” she said.

Gaby S., 21, said she supports this changing attitude within the Catholic faith.

“I believe it’s a progressive movement that Pope Francis is attempting to create,” she said “There are many homosexuals whose beliefs align with Catholicism, and Christianity in general, but know they are usually not welcomed into these religious communities.”

Gaby’s statement resembles a line from the report. It said that homosexuals “need to be welcomed and accompanied with patience and delicacy.”

“I think 50 years from now we will look back and think of how ludicrous these homosexual separations are,” she said.

Patricia P., president of Catholic Gators, declined to comment on the topic. Catholic Student Center staff did not return requests for comment.

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