The Vatican made waves this week with a seemingly more open stance toward gay and divorced people—but now, Catholic officials are pulling back from Monday's statement amid a backlash from conservatives, CNN reports. The Vatican's earlier comment that "homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community" isn't its official stance, it emphasized in a follow-up statement yesterday; instead, it's simply part of a "working document." Even as it seeks a more welcoming approach to the issue, the church doesn't want to give "the impression of a positive evaluation" of same-sex relationships.
"The same care was advised with regard to cohabitation," the Vatican added, following comments that called for acknowledgment of the "positive" elements of unmarried couples living together. Monday's comments reflect issues to be debated at the synod ahead of a final statement, leaders say, as per the Independent. One cardinal blasted Monday's comments as "irredeemable," CNN notes. "It's not what we're saying at all," says South Africa's Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier. But liberal Catholics still see a breakthrough: "Regardless of the fact that this is a working document, it is still significant in that it reveals a strong current of affirmative attitudes at high levels in the church towards lesbians and gay people," says a leader of the New Ways Ministry. (Read more Vatican stories.)