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Bishops' stance exposes NZ tensions

Thu 23 Oct 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Professor Peter Lineham A noted religious affairs expert says the shunning by Catholic Bishops of the Pope's move to modify the church's stance on gay people highlights tensions around the subject in New Zealand. The Pope's suggestion that gay people could be welcomed to the church as they offer "gifts and qualities" was watered down in the Bishops' Synod to essentially acknowledge that homosexuality is a problem in the Catholic context and to expunge the welcoming tone of the Pope's proposal. Professor Peter Lineham of Massey University, who is himself gay, says it is clear that the Pope believes the Catholic church should stop making enemies. "Pope Francis is clearly pushing and backing the more liberal elements, although he is not actually trying to change church doctrine on matters such as gay marriage and sex," Lineham says. He says there are definitely tensions locally in the Catholic church. "Many Catholics here are friendly to gay people and yet they are very cautious about extending communion to gays. This is a struggle for them." Lineham says this struggle is exacerbated by the changing nature lof the New Zealand priesthood. "Many New Zealand priests these days are originally from more conservative countries and are considerable more conservative than New Zealand-born priests," he notes. However, Lineham is optimistic that the Pope's moves will to some extent prevail and create a change in the church's stance of gay people. "And this may also help influence those other churches, such as the Presbyterians, who are still struggling with the issues of homosexuality."    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 23rd October 2014 - 9:30am

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