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Vatican Synod Summary Acknowledges Pain of LGBTQIA+ People, Other Changes Sought by Church Members

October 28, 2022. The use of “LGBTQ” and, in one instance, “LGBTQIA+,” is just one of the significant advances in an official Vatican document summarizing the first phase of the worldwide church Synod according to DignityUSA. The organization is the world’s longest-serving organization of Catholics working for justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the church and society. 

“The Vatican’s Synod office has offered our church and the world a document that demonstrates an exceptional level of transparency and acknowledgement of failure in numerous areas,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA Executive Director. “Sexual abuse, the inequity of women, the pain experienced by LGBTQIA+ people, irrelevance to young people, even the need to care for the children of priests and the mothers of these children are all addressed in this document. It appears that the Synod Secretariat has provided a faithful account of the concerns brought forward by Listening Session participants from around the world. Areas of disagreement among participants are noted, and there is a strong focus on structural issues that Catholics see as preventing our church from responding to its mission.” 

Duddy-Burke continued, “A number of issues that were themes in the Listening Sessions DignityUSA conducted appear in the Vatican document. Certainly, we heard much about the uncertainty of LGBTQIA+ people and their families about whether they were fully welcomed and respected in the church, and that was mentioned. The pain of not having our loving relationships blessed and celebrated sacramentally is documented. The document also touches on the ways in which our church’s sacraments have been used coercively and divisively, which is a key concern of our community. We also heard a great deal about the exclusion of women from ministerial and governance roles, which is a key focus of the document. 

“We recognize, and the Vatican document acknowledges, that many are skeptical about the Synodal process. This document indicates a spirit of humble listening and accountability. However, we are well aware that the summary has been written by those invested in the success of the Synod, and the ultimate outcome of the process rests with the world’s bishops. There are many in that group who fear the threat to their own authority that this process represents, or who are adamantly opposed to the kind of transformations many who participated in this process are calling for,” said Duddy-Burke.  

The document ends with an outline of the next step of the Synod process, the Continental phase. Between now and March 2023, each continent’s bishops are asked to further explore three questions in groups that are broadly representative. DignityUSA calls for strong representation of LGBTQIA+ people and their families.  

“We want to hear from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops how participants in the next phase will be selected,” said Duddy-Burke. “The Vatican specifically instructs that those representing people at the margins be involved. We stand ready and very willing to be part of this deeper exploration of the experience of our community and our hopes for the church.” 

DignityUSA represents Catholics committed to justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in our church and society. Founded in 1969, it is a founding member of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.