A major gathering of the Latin American church has called for greater LGBTQ pastoral care while condemning violence against that community.
The Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean concluded November 28th after a hybrid meeting virtually and in-person in Mexico City for a week. The assembly’s outcomes document included LGBTQ issues at several points, which were addressed in a positive light.
For instance, outcome 20 seeks to promote a church in which “cultural, ethnic, and sexual diversity are integrated.” To achieve this desire, pastoral attitudes include:
“Encouraging in our communities and local Churches the recognition and appreciation of sexual, ethnic and cultural diversity through spaces for human advancement and job and educational training.
“Going out to meet with mercy, approaching us with gestures, attitudes and initiatives of listening and dialogue.
“Promoting the spirituality of communion and the culture of the encounter that helps us to value the other as a gift.”
Elsewhere, in outcome 27, the church is called to denounce structural violence through social movements that pay particular attention to marginal communities including “LGBTIQ+” people.
Outcome 24 is about family ministry, and reads that such ministry “embraces new expressions, their complexity and diversity.” Pastoral attitudes include:
“Enriching our message with a language that includes all the forms of family formation in the formative processes and the celebration of the faith.
“Mercifully and tenderly integrating the various types of families: single parents, civil unions and with a diversity of sexual orientation.”
Roughly 1,000 participants from region gathered to practice synodality and discuss the church’s present reality. Beyond simply an episcopal gathering, hundreds of clergy and religious, as well as 400 lay people participated. Three delegates of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) were in attendance.
Under the goal of “We are all missionary disciples going forth,” the goal was “to set priorities for the church in Latin America and the Caribbean for the next 10-12 years,” according to the National Catholic Reporter. Pope Francis said in a welcome video that the ecclesial assembly, the first of its kind, was “a time that opens up for us new horizons of hope.”
Preceding the Mexico City gathering, some 50,000 people participated in a process of listening and dialogue that was widely representative. As part of those preparations, Latin American members of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics organized a survey of LGBTQ Catholics, families, and allies. Tomorrow, Bondings 2.0 will report on the findings of that survey and its potential impact.
As it often has in the pasgt, the Latin American church is leading the global church into deeper reception of Vatican II and practices of synodality. The Ecclesial Assembly in November is an attempt to embody the types of listening, dialogue, and pastorally-oriented action which have become hallmarks of the first Latin American pope’s ministry. While it may not be surprising that LGBTQ issues would have emerged in the concerns of the laity, it is remarkable that these concerns were heard and then reflected in the assembly’s final report, a step that remains too uncommon in other ecclesial processes.
The global church is deeply indebted to Latin American Catholics for embodying new ways of being church in the third millennium. Hopefully, LGBTQ issues, once surfaced during the Synod on Synodality, will be treated likewise.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, December 14, 2021