The Vatican has altered the English version of a groundbreaking overture to gay people.
After a draft report by bishops debating family issues came under criticism from conservative English-speaking bishops, a new translation was released.
A section initially titled Welcoming homosexuals is now Providing for homosexual persons, and the tone of the text is significantly colder and less welcoming.
The initial English version — released on Monday along with the original — accurately reflected the Italian version in both letter and spirit, and contained a remarkable tone of acceptance extended to gay people. Conservatives were outraged.
The first version asked if the Church was capable of “welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities”.
The new version asks if the Church is “capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing... them... a place of fellowship in our communities”.
The first version said homosexual unions can often constitute a “precious support in the life of the partners”. The new one says gay unions often constitute “valuable support in the life of these persons”.
In nearly all cases, the first version followed the official Italian version; the second provides a different tone altogether.
Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said English-speaking bishops had requested the changes, arguing the first translation was hasty and error-ridden.
When Rev Lombardi was shown how significantly the meaning had changed, he vowed to investigate and did not rule out a third version.
He stressed the original Italian remains the official text, and noted that the draft is being revised top-to-bottom for a final report which will go to a vote among bishops tomorrow. If two- thirds approve it, the report will form the basis of talks in dioceses around the world before another meeting of bishops next year.
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