Cardinal: ‘LGBT’ Will Not Be in Synod Final Report, But ‘Sexual Orientation’ Might Be

Pope Francis with Cardinal Gracias

Crux has published an interview with India’s Cardinal Oswald Gracias in which he gives some insights into what the synod’s final report might be saying, based on what he has read in the draft.  The following excerpt might be of interest to Bondings 2.0 readers:

“Some media attention has focused on concerns among Church conservatives that while the phrase ‘LGBT’ does not figure in the draft of the final document, language about ‘sexual orientation’ is present that doesn’t result from input from participants in the synod hall.”

In the last few days, it had become increasingly more obvious that the term ‘LGBT’ was too controversial for many of the synod bishops.  While some probably sided with Archbishop Charles Chaput’s critique, other reasons have also emerged such as the term not being understandable to non-Western audiences.

While I had hoped that the term would have been used again, as it had been in the synod’s working document, its absence does not negate the value of the synod document entirely (though it does weaken it).  In a discussion with other reporters yesterday,  I was asked how important it was to have the exact term ‘LGBT’ appear in the text.  I answered that those four letter were necessary, but what was crucial is that the document use language that LGBT people use to describe themselves: ‘lesbian,’ ‘gay,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘bisexual,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘sexual orientation.”

Words like “same-sex attraction,” “gender confusion,” “suffering,” “inclinations,” even “homosexual” clearly do not reflect the community of people that the church supposedly wants to reach.  Perhaps these words reflect what some church leaders want to believe about LGBT people, but they are simply inaccurate and offensive.

The fact that “sexual orientation” may be used is a good step.  It would be better if they also used “gender identity” to be more inclusive, but from what I have been able to discern, when synod discussions broached LGBT issues, they seem to have been focused more about the “LGB,” but not the “T.”

One theory that I have heard is that if the document does not use the term ‘LGBT,’ its omission will be explained by saying that its original appearance in the synod working document was because that was a term that youth delegates at the synod pre-meeting used.  In other words, they will say the use of it was quoting the language of youth, and not signifying a new usage by the Vatican.

Based on Gracias’ peek into the draft and from other messages that I have heard from synod participants, I think that the synod’s final document may contain one of two types of messages about LGBT people.

  1. “We welcome you and will pastorally accompany you on your spiritual journey.”
  2. “We welcome you and will pastorally accompany you on your spiritual journey, and we will also call you to conversion [meaning living celibately.”

We’re in the final stretch.  We will find out later today what the synod’s report will say.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministsry, October 27, 2018

5 replies
  1. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    The Episcopal Church welcomes LGBT people. Yesterday, Matthew Shepard was laid to rest at the National Cathedral ,which is Episcopal. How can people (LGBT) be too controversial for some bishops ? Either the bishops go,or…………………..

  2. Patricia Vasilj
    Patricia Vasilj says:

    I watched the ceremony at Washington National Cathedral for the internment of Matthew Shephard’s ashes with tears in my eyes. When will this end? Does the Catholic Church know what their rhetoric and that of other faiths know what it causes not only to the LBGTQ children who are raised in their places of worship but to the rest of society? This is not just semantics, this is real. It impacts lives. Mothers will come to PFLAG meetings with pictures of their sons and daughters who can’t take the guilt imposed on them and have ended their lives. Some suffer attacks similar to those that happened to Matthew. Some governments have laws that impose death penalties. The Catholic Church can trace its origins to Peter and the Apostles. Shouldn’t we be the starting place for change?

  3. Albertus
    Albertus says:

    I donot agree at all with the statement by some – claiming to represent all gay people, that we gay people call ourselves ”LGBT” and therefore this term should be used by the Church in its Synod report. Neither i , nor does anyone else i know, think of himself or refer to himself as ”lgbt”. We are gay men, bisexual men, bisexual women, lesbian (or gay women). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual refer to sexual /romantic orientation, whereas Transgender refers to a different category of persons, which does not have to do with sexual orientation but with seks (or gender) identification. I am convinced that the Church needs to recognise in her speach and writings the existance of the natural phenomenon known as sexual orientation. The Church should indeed stop using negative psychologising language such as ”deap seated homosexual tendencies” and ”same-sex attraction affliction”. However, i am likewise convinced, that the Church does not need to used confusting catch-phrase acronyms such as LGBT. I find both homosexual, bisexual and gay to be respectful enough terms.

    • Thomas Ellison
      Thomas Ellison says:

      I also find homosexual man, woman, person to be acceptable. LGBT is just a convenient short hand for a huge group of people. It is how these people are treated ,not so much how they are called.

  4. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    As a universal church, the Catholic Church/Vatican has prided herself on the familiarity she has with all languages (a key to evangelization). All of a sudden a widely used acronym for commonly understood words is a problem to be understood. If there is a bishop who doesn’t know the use of LGBT he should be sent back to school to learn about language in the 21st Century.


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