Last week, Pope Francis made in important statement on the development of doctrine which is readily applicable to LGBT issues in the church. Speaking at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s publication, Francis told those gathered:
“Doctrine cannot be preserved without allowing it to develop, nor can it be tied to an interpretation that is rigid and immutable without demeaning the working of the Holy Spirit. ‘God, who in many and various ways spoke of old to our fathers’ (Heb 1:1), ‘uninterruptedly converses with the bride of his beloved Son’ (Dei Verbum, 8). We are called to make this voice our own by ‘reverently hearing the word of God’ (ibid., 1), so that our life as a Church may progress with the same enthusiasm as in the beginning, towards those new horizons to which the Lord wishes to guide us.”
Pope Francis also said “the word of god cannot be moth-balled like some old blanket in an attempt to keep insects at bay!” but is “a dynamic and living reality that develops and grows.” Though his application of these remarks was about absolutely prohibiting the death penalty, his powerful acknowledgement that doctrine develops opens the possibility that church teachings on sexuality and gender could develop, too. Indeed numerous theologians and other faithful have proposed the need for such developments in recent decades as the “new horizons” to which God is moving the church. That the pope himself has reiterated Vatican II’s teaching on doctrinal development, which had been suppressed under his predecessors, moves that possibility of development a bit closer to becoming reality.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 14, 2017