What the Synod on Synodality’s Continental Reports Say about LGBTQ+ Issues: Part I

The Continental Stage of the Synod on Synodality has now concluded following regional assemblies this spring. With its conclusion come reports from each of these seven regions, as well as the “Digital Synod.” Today and tomorrow’s post features a round up of areas in these reports that name LGBTQ+ issues.

The continental reports reflect upon insights gained through the Synod’s local listening phase. The reports also respond to the Synod office’s initial working document  released last fall, which named LGBTQ+ issues as a pressing concern.

Though each report is only a few dozen pages in length, the continental reports are extensive in their content. They touch on nearly every aspect of Christian life in the world today from the role of women in the church—a central theme—to indigenous rights, clericalism, youth outreach, interfaith dialogue, liturgy debates, climate change, and so much more.

Central, however, in each report was the strong desire for a more inclusive church contrasted against a recognition of the profound exclusion that has marked Catholic life in many ways. LGBTQ+ inclusion was a repeated aspect of this desire.

Today’s post provides key quotes from four of the continental reports relating to gender and sexuality. Tomorrow’s post will include information on four more reports, as well as a brief commentary. The full reports are available at the Synod’s website here.

Asia’s Continental Report

The Experience of Wounds: 67. The reports acknowledge the Church’s lack of understating and failure in providing sufficient pastoral care to some groups of people who are part of the Church but are often struggling to feel welcomed. Among them are single parents, people in irregular marriage situations, mixed marriages, people who identify themselves as LGBTQIA+, as well as migrants and others.

Priorities from the Asian Responses: 169. The women, youth, and those marginalised or excluded, with special attention to the abandoned (e.g., street children and elderly), also significant pastoral care should be provided to divorced, remarried, single parents, broken families, persons with disabilities (PWDs), prisoners, persons who identify as LGBTQIA+, the elderly, substance dependents, commercial sex workers, etc.) the wounded and victimised, fractured families and those struggling with gender identity, the displaced and the persecuted, and a whole spectrum of many others must find their place in this ‘tent’ (Church).

Europe’s Continental Report

Facing Open Wounds, Overcoming Prejudices, Reconciling Memories: 40. Only when we listen to the voices that are often not heard, can we grow and discern. We wish especially to hear the voices of specific groups within the Church: the poor people, the marginalized people, those who feel left out or not welcome, the LGBTQ community, divorced and remarried people, migrants, and people whose lives did not turn out as they hoped for (The Netherlands). The link between synodal reform and concern for victims and marginalised people in the Church must be maintained: In the struggles for the future of the Church, we want to put concrete people and their suffering first (Multilingual working group). The sick and people with disabilities are often mentioned too. A number of delegations express an urgency to take steps, because many people and groups feel rejected, degraded and discriminated against in our Church, often unfortunately rightly so. They want safe encounters and honest dialogue at eye level. Time is pressing: We see the need for a real conversion! (Switzerland)

Truth and Mercy: 56. Slovenia expresses two requirements highlighted often: Young people want a Church close to people, including those on the margins, open to the issues of separated and remarried persons, LGBTQIA+ people. But they also want the Church to make it clear that not everything is acceptable! So the Church should listen, but also tell the whole truth with great love! (Slovenia).

Latin America and Caribbean’s Continental Report (via Google Translate)

64. A synodal Church is called to “be a more prophetic and Samaritan Church. A prophetic Church and on a missionary outing, that really goes out to the geographical and existential peripheries and that listens to the cry of the poor and creation” (Bolivia). It is important that in the synodal process we have the audacity to bring up and discern great themes, often forgotten or relegated, and to meet with the other and with all those who are part of the human family and are often marginalized, also in our Church. In various appeals it is recalled that in the spirit of Jesus we must “be inclusive of the poor, LGTBIQ+ communities, couples in second unions, priests who want to return to the Church in their new situation, women who abort out of fear, the imprisoned, the sick” (Southern Cone). It is about “walking together in a synodal Church that listens to all types of exiles so that they feel at home”, a Church that is a “refuge for the wounded and broken” (Southern Cone). This calls for availability to “go out to meet, give our attention, get involved. Because synodality means not waiting for the people to come, but going out to meet them” (Southern Cone).

Middle East’s Continental Report (via Google Translate)

39. The Churches have recently observed the increase in the number of separated couples, of those who prefer to change their confession or religion with a view to divorce, and of women who have recourse to abortion… (A.P.E.C.L, §2.13, p7 ). They see the LGBTQ+ community sometimes participating in the transfer of ideas and concepts from Western society and in the dissemination of gender theory in the world of electronic communication and social networks, as well as their impact on youth (A.P.E.C.L, §2.12, p6).

Tomorrow, Bondings 2.0 will report on insights in reports from North America, Oceania, Africa, and the “Digital Synod,” as well as offer a brief commentary. If you do not already subscribe to Bondings 2.0 to have the latest Catholic LGBTQ+ news, opinion, and spirituality delivered to your inbox each day, you can do so here.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, May 15, 2023

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