Local church leaders are adjusting after the Vatican released a document on Monday welcoming gay people, divorcees, unmarried couples and their children in the Catholic Church. The document addresses the changes in families across cultures and it recognizes some of the "positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation."
General Counsel for the Missouri Catholic Conference Tyler McClay said the document does not change Catholic doctrine or teaching, but examines how the church can evangelize to families of all types.
"What I think the Church is wrestling with is if these people have gifts and they are in our church, how are we to welcome them, how do we now minister to them" McClay said.
While same sex marriage is still not legal in Missouri, a judge did recently order the state to recognize marriages that occur out of state. McClay said same sex marriages and civil unions will still not be recognized or accepted by the Catholic Church.
However, Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City Monsignor Gregory Higley says the document is part of an ongoing discussion in the church on how to be accepting while challenging people's way of living.
"I think what Pope Francis is trying to help to us to see how to continue the dialogue and working together so that people still feel that that they belong," Higley said. "So that they can still participate in the life in society with the rights that have afforded to them by legal mandates and also participate in the church with the rights they have as human beings and members of the Church."
Higley said the discussion of issues of same-sex marriage and divorced and remarried couples will be ongoing.
"I think that all pastoral leadership welcomes frank discussion and open dialogue about issues and concerns that affect the members," Higley said." As long we can be respectful of one another's dignity and humanity, we'll be able to work through this time of development."
McClay said the document from the Vatican is only preliminary and Catholic churches in Missouri will look for formal policy changes from the Pope.