New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine have spent the past four weeks in Rome reporting on the first general assembly of the Synod on Synodality. Last Saturday, the synod mothers and fathers voted on and released their final synthesis document, which brings to a close this first general assembly’s work.
So what happens now?
To explore some answers to that question, New Ways Ministry is hosting an online conversation entitled “The Synod & LGBTQ+ People: What Happened?” on Thursday, November 9, 2023, at 7:30 pm Eastern U.S. Time, on Zoom. Frank and Bob will share some of their experiences in Rome and their reactions to the lack of discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in the final text. As part of this online program, participants will also have the opportunity to speak together about our reactions, our disappointments, our hopes, and our next steps as we continue to journey together along the path to which Pope Francis is calling us. You can click here to register.
We’ve already heard from many folks in the Catholic LGBTQ+ community about their disappointment because of the lack of any substantive discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in the assembly’s final document. Despite the fact that LGBTQ+ issues were part of the synodal process from its beginning and were included in the working document for lastmonth’s assembly, the delegates were apparently not able to reach any consensus on issues related to sexuality and gender identity beyond saying that “Certain issues, such as those relating to matters of identity and sexual orientation […] are controversial not only in society, but also in the Church, because they raise new questions.”
As New Ways Ministry’s response to the document stated:
“With no positive statement on LGBTQ+ issues in the document, and with only two references which simply state what was known when the Synod began, Catholics globally will be greatly disappointed. After two years of calling on the church to have a more positive approach to LGBTQ+ people, repeated over and over around the globe and in every phase of the Synod consultations, it is clear that Catholics want a more inclusive church.”
But while New Ways Ministry’s disappointmentthat the final synthesis failed to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through LGBTQ+ Catholics and their family and friends, we have certainly not lost hope. We are buoyed by that hope because of a message received from Pope Francis on October 17th when New Ways Ministry staff members met with him. His message was one of hope, which our post-assembly statement explained:
“While LGBTQ+ Catholics and their supporters will be disappointed, we pray that they will not also become discouraged. When New Ways Ministry’s co-founder and staff met with Pope Francis this month during the Synod assembly, he counseled us never to give up hope, quoting St. Paul: ‘Hope does not disappoint’ (Romans 5:5).
“The Catholic LGBTQ+ community must take Pope Francis’ message to heart. The report’s shortcomings are an invitation to speak anew about their joys, their sorrows, and their faith during the remaining year of this synodal journey. Now is not a time to despair. Now is a time to continue living in hope, and to make that hope come alive through action.”
So the first step in our action is to continue bringing the voices of LGBTQ+ Catholics from the margins to the center. The November 9th Zoom conversation will help us all begin to reflect on how keep to keep hoping and acting in the critical year ahead.
Between now and next October’s general assembly, Bondings 2.0 will continue to update you on with reporting and analysis on LGBTQ+ issues in this ongoing synod. Pope Francis continues to invite everyone to participate in the Synod, especially if you have not done so previously.
So, come and offer your thoughts on what “journeying together” means now. As LGBTQ+ and ally Catholics, have we been seen and heard by participants of the Synod assembly? What have we learned? How do we move forward? Where do we find and nurture hope?
Be part of the conversation on November 9th, by clicking here and registering now!
—Brian Flanagan, New Ways Ministry, November 2, 2023
To read the synod reports from Rome by Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine, along with insightful analysis by queer theolgians, click here.
To view all of New Ways Ministry’s Synod resources, click here.