How LGBT-Friendly Are the Appointees to the Synod on Marriage and Family?

The Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family is less than one month away.  The Vatican released the names of the bishops who will be participating, as well as a list of the lay observers.

In terms of the bishops who will be participating,  there is a mixed bag on their approach to LGBT issues.  Here are some of the prominent names, with a little bit of their history on LGBT topics:

These are only a handful of the more than 250 appointees, and it is by no means an exhaustive list of people with any sort of record on LGBT issues.  It only includes names of those for whom I had concrete supporting evidence with which to link.  However, others on the list, such as Cardinal George Pell of Australia and now at the Vatican, have a long history of anti-LGBT measures.  Similarly, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich-Freising, Germany, are known to be very supportive of LGBT people and topics.

If you are aware of others on the list who have a record, positive or negative, on LGBT issues, please share your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.  Supporting links would be very helpful.

From my perspective, the most important feature from the list of lay observers is that no publicly LGBT person or couple is named.  The Synod will be examining pastoral responses to families headed by same-gender couples.  Didn’t the Vatican think it would be good to hear from some of them?  If the Vatican has invited heterosexual couples to participate, why did they not invite lesbian and gay couples, too?

Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, a columnist for The National Catholic Reporter, offers a critical view of the list in an essay entitled “The makeup of Synod of Bishops on the family is disappointing.”   Reese is disappointed that so many Curia officials will be participating, and he notes that they should be “staff, not policymakers.”  He explained:

“They have all the other weeks of the year to advise the pope. This is the time for bishops from outside of Rome to make their views known.”

Reese observes that the choices of who will be advising the bishops also seems lopsided.

“Half the experts are clerics, which seems strange at a synod on the family. None of the 16 experts is from the United States; 10 are from Europe (including five from Italy), three from Asia, and one each from Mexico, Lebanon and Australia.

“There are more laypeople among the 38 auditors, including 14 married couples, of whom two are from the United States. Many of the observers are employees of the Catholic church or heads of Catholic organizations, including natural family planning organizations.

“For example, one couple from the United States is Jeffrey Heinzen, director of natural family planning in the diocese of La Crosse, Wis., and Alice Heinzen, member of the Natural Family Planning Advisory Board of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

Bondings 2.0 will continue to update you on the Synod as the days of preparation progress, and we will try to provide LGBT-relevant information and analysis once the meeting begins.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

3 replies
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    Everyone needs to pray for the Holy Spirit to intervene in these deliberations — and to intervene BIG TIME in directly guiding the proceedings. Does anyone here seriously think that the Lord Himself condemns faithfully-bonded and lovingly-partnered same-sex couples? The mere notion is completely absurd. When abstruse academic theology and loving human relationships come into direct conflict, it ought to be obvious which option prevails with Heaven. (FYI, I’ve long felt that the forcible and totally unnecessary celibacy of Catholic clergy is a big source of the emotional “disconnect” between priests and faithful parishioners — but that’s a whole other discussion.)

  2. brendathewriter
    brendathewriter says:

    There should have been at least 10% Roman Catholics who are GLBTQ. Anything else is a travesty. I agree with the person above who posted that there also should have been more non European members and more Mothers with gay children. Actually, there should have been more females period. What is left of the Roman Church is heavily female.

    Sadly, they don’t even have an accurate count of how many Roman Catholics there are. Sorry, but counting everyone who gets baptised in an African village because the chief of the tribe converts does not count. Neither does counting those of us born Roman who have since moved to other denominations. Finally, counting the non-Roman Vaticanites, who have vastly different beliefs, liturgy, married clergy, and so on isn’t honest either.

    But if you release a survey ( which here in New Hampshire USA the Bishop did all but hide the existance of), you will get bad results, and using your bad results will build a bad synod. Simple stuff anyone withan MBA would understand.


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