The document states that unions between same-sex couples are not “even remotely analogous” to “God’s plan for marriage and the family.” The bishops in the same paragraph also criticize the extension of marriage rights to gays and lesbians as a condition for “poor countries” to receive financial aid.
The bishops also conclude that Jesus offered “boundless love” to “every person without exception.”
“The church reaffirms that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, must be respected in their dignity,” reads the document.
The document affirms Pope Francis’ previous statements in which he said children “have the right to grow up in a family, with a father and a mother.” The bishops also criticize what they describe as “the ideology of ‘gender’ that defines the difference and reciprocity nature of man and woman.”
“It envisages a society without gender differences and empties the anthropological foundation of the family,” reads the document. “This ideology leads educational projects and legislative guidelines that promote personal identity and emotional intimacy radically decoupled from biological diversity between male and female.”
The Washington Post reported the document, which contains 94 recommendations to Francis, did not include a proposal from Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny that would have recognized “the spiritual value of same-sex unions.”
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based group that advocates on behalf of LGBT Catholics, in a lengthy statement on Saturday criticized the bishops for including a reference against the “ideology of gender.”
DeBernardo also described the bishops’ opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples as “disappointing.” He nevertheless welcomed the lack of attention that homosexuality and other related issues received in the final document.
“The synod’s final report focused its discussion of LGBT issues solely on families with lesbian and gay members in them,” said DeBernardo. “This is a step in the right direction, but it must not be the last step.”
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a group for LGBT Catholics, in a statement criticized the report.
“The final report from the Synod is essentially an endorsement of the status quo,” she said. “It is deeply disappointing to anyone who hoped that new ground would be broken in how the Church deals with a whole range of family issues.”
The bishops released their document against the backdrop of the church’s more moderate tone towards homosexuality and other issues since Francis became pope in March 2013.
Francis during his visit to D.C. last month met with Yayo Grassi, a gay man he taught in his native Argentina in the 1960s. The Vatican also distanced itself from claims that Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs, had a private audience with the pontiff before he traveled to New York.
The Vatican’s critics are quick to point out the church’s positions on homosexuality, marriage rights for same-sex couples and gay priests has not changed since Francis became pope.
The Vatican earlier this month fired Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa from his post within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which implements church teachings on homosexuality and other issues, and the two papal universities at which he taught theology after he came out as gay on the eve of the start of the bishops’ meeting on the family. A Chilean newspaper in September published a series of emails between two cardinals that show they conspired to block a gay man’s nomination to a sex abuse commission that Francis created.
The man — Juan Carlos Cruz — is among the hundreds of people who Rev. Fernando Karadima sexually abused in his parish in the Chilean capital of Santiago over more than three decades.