Catholics Respond to the Final Report from the Synod on the Family

Report offers little for LGBTQI Catholics, but hope for future possibilities

October 26, 2015 -- Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic organizations committed to LGBT equality in the church and civil society, is disappointed that the final report from the Vatican Synod on the Family offers little for LGBTQI Catholics and for families with LGBTQI members. In particular, the final report demonstrates a lack of understanding of transgender experiences and people, and a lack of compassion for same sex couples who have adopted children. Still, we remain hopeful that the door has opened a bit wider for conversations on these issues to take place at the highest levels of our Church.

Members of the Equally Blessed Coalition had this to say:

Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry: "Last year’s synod opened the door for greater discussion of LGBT issues in the Church. While the discussion was not as explicit this year, we saw a variety of interesting specific proposals that could eventually have a positive effect on the Church’s pastoral ministry with LGBT people: a transformation of Church language which has been offensive, harmful, and inaccurate; the need for local bishops to be allowed to respond more pastorally given the unique attitudes and practices of their communities; the desire for the Church to be more of a listening presence and accompanying friend instead of a disciplinarian rule giver.

"We heard bishops willing to speak up for lesbian and gay people, including an apology from the German speaking bishops ... We heard bishops say that pastoral ministry must go forward regardless of whether a person’s opinions and life conform to the Church’s teaching. We heard bishops say that the road has been paved for a better discussion of these issues in the future." (Read his complete statement.)

Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA: "It is clear that there was deep division among the bishops participating in the Synod on LGBT issues, with many recognizing the need for significant changes in doctrine, language, and pastoral approach. That was evident in the daily reports and summaries of the language group discussions. However, it is also clear that those who refused to consider any possibility of change managed to delay any significant movement towards greater openness,” said Duddy-Burke. “Unless Pope Francis chooses to introduce new doctrine on his own—which is unlikely given the way he spoke about what constitutes marriage and family in his closing remarks—we will see no change in how the official Church deals with LGBT people." (Read her complete statement.)

Call To Action: "We were heartened, however, by those bishops who spoke out with new openness and candor, especially those who advocated for an updating of pastoral practice and dogma. In addition, we were pleased to see significant movement occurring regarding divorced and remarried Catholics and the continued focus on pastoral outreach to LGBTQI communities is a welcome and yearned for step forward. The Synod reaffirming one’s conscience in decision-making will hopefully serve as a hopeful sign for more positive change to come." (Read their complete statement.)

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