Dignity Twin Cities has done an informal survey of the synod report summaries from several dioceses and archdioceses around the United States. We are gratified to see that many diocese mention the need for better and more outreach to the Catholic LGBTQIA+ community. We are dismayed to see that the synod report from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
https://www.archspm.org/synodletter/ completely fails to mention LGBTQIA+ Catholics.
3.4: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer + (LGBTQ+)
Openness, Acceptance, and Connection • Church leadership is not welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community — they are tolerated but not accepted. • The Church is unwelcoming to people with different gender and sexual orientations; the Church should open its doors to all people and not be homophobic. • LGBTQ+ parishioners need to be welcomed into the Church, engaging a broader and much more diverse group of people. • We want a Church to help us feel connected to one another rather than disconnecting people from one another. We want an inclusive church in which we can see ourselves in the faces of others like us, be named and celebrated. • LGBTQ+: we should be accepting, encountering with compassion, and learning from this community. • The Holy Spirit is calling us to break the stereotypes against people of the LGBTQ+ community to make them feel welcomed and accepted. Learn, Teach, and Model Pastoral Care • Young people need to see the Church speak through its actions on behalf of LGBTQ+ people. • The gender and sexual identities of some school staff, students and parents are not currently supported by the Catholic Church, which places them at a higher risk for self-harm and discrimination. The Holy Spirit is calling the Church to change to live God’s message — to be more inclusive and accepting of EVERYONE and follow Jesus’s commandment to LOVE; to focus on what we have in common vs. what separates us. • Catholic youth want to learn how to address this topic with their friends. Many youth feel confused about the Church’s stance on this topic, and do not feel they have a good way of loving their friends who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and understand the Church’s teaching. • Our diocese needs more in-depth exploration and understanding of Theology of the Body.
Source: Synod_Report_English_final.pdf (ecatholic.com)
LGBTQ+ Catholics: Participants expressed a need to accompany those Catholics who identify as LGBTQ+ and their loved ones. Some seek greater clarity on Church teaching and a change in how the Church communicates that teaching. Others said the Church is perceived as being judgmental PREPARATORY DOCUMENT SYNOD OF BISHOPS and unwelcoming. Still others suggested that many have left the Church or refuse to enter the Church due to these perceptions. Parishioners in a suburban pastorate expressed a desire for the Church to be “more inclusive” of same-sex attracted Catholics and others struggling with issues related to sexuality and gender. They also stated a desire for the Church to offer help to parents regarding “how to discuss homosexuality, gender change, and identity.” Some participants spoke of ministries in their parishes designed to make same-sex attracted individuals feel welcomed, loved, and embraced by their parish communities and called for similar approaches at every level of ecclesial life.
Source: Synod-Report-June-2022_Web_RV2.pdf (archbalt.org)
Another surprise was the widespread support for a larger role for women in the Church and the broad call by many for the Church to be more welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community. As society has radically changed, and the Church has not, relationships with women spouses and daughters, and family and friends who are gay, lesbian or transgender are causing many to question how they remain connected and active in this faith.
As noted above, there is extensive support to stop the marginalization of the LGBTQ+ community. They feel rejected and excluded from the Church, both in practice and in Church teaching. “I am not intrinsically disordered,” declared one participant in the Listening Session. Our Synod primarily reached those who remain affiliated with the Church. We often heard from disaffiliated second hand through friends and parents and grandparents who described their children’s departure from the Church. Issues that parents often cite as reasons that their adult children have left the Church are the distrust that arose from the abuse scandal, the lack of respect for women as manifested in an all-male clergy as well as positions on reproductive rights, the lack of acceptance of LGBTQ+ and the changing nature of family construct in today’s society. One woman said, “I feel angry that I have to apologize to my children for being Catholic.”
People who have divorced and remarried are kept from fully participating in sacraments, serving as sponsors, and made to wade through an extraordinary bureaucracy to attempt to secure annulment. The LGBTQ+ community feels not just abandoned, but chastised for who they are, “who God made them to be.” There are many people that do not live in a Catholic defined family structure who feel ostracized from the practice of their faith. The calls for changes were heard well beyond the voices of these communities themselves, but in many sessions, people expressed their hope that the Church would embrace them with respect, justice, and compassion.
There is a unanimous call for our Universal Church to truly live our Gospel values and become a more welcoming and diverse Church. This will necessitate fundamental changes in the roles of clergy and women in leadership, its teachings on sexuality, particularly in ways that provide acceptance for LGBTQ+ persons. For the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, there is a need to broaden and deepen its teaching to reflect all aspects of Catholic Social Teaching – and to communicate it more forcefully. People desire consistency of message from Church leadership as a guide to forming our Catholic Identity. You are challenged to find ways to unify in purpose while nurturing the breadth of worship and missions that draw people to celebrate their faith! Unity does not mean uniformity.
Source: Diocese-of-Buffalo-Synod-Report-to-USCCB2-1.pdf (buffalodiocese.org)
The respondents want the Church to make strides with members of the LGBTQ community. Due to misinformation, disagreement with Catholic teaching, or pure homophobia on the part of individuals, LGBTQ Catholics still have a difficult time feeling welcome in the Church, let alone fully participating. We are all made in the image of God, including those in the LGBTQ community. The respondents want the Church to mend its relationship with the LGBTQ community because dialogue and participation cannot be fruitful unless all parties have mutual trust and feel loved first.
In the Participation thematic question, the responses offered indicate a desire to be heard, included, and fully participate in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Among the respondents were those who expressed the need for a greater participation of the feminine genius in the life of the Church. Other respondents lamented the lack of presence of youth in the apostolate of the Church, and even in diocesan synodal sharing. Still other respondents felt those with same sex attraction, and the LGBTQ faithful, need a welcome to participate in the life of the Church.
Source: FINAL Diocese of Las Vegas Synthesis for Website.pdf
Participant responses throughout the diocese demonstrated a clear struggle regarding the issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community. There were diverse responses exhibited that generally fell into one of three positions. Some participants stated that the Church and pastors need to speak more openly against behaviors that conflict with divine and natural law. Others expressed that, while the need to maintain the teaching of the Church is fundamentally necessary, parishes should be more welcoming to those whose lifestyles may conflict with it. Lastly, some participants felt the Church needs to change its position and not only welcome those who identify as LGBTQIA+ but also fully accept their lifestyle. More consistently expressed is the need for the Church to respond fully to the issues regarding gender, sexual attraction, and the appropriate response toward those who identify as LGBTQIA+.
Since an invitation to listening presupposes an act of responding, the suggested next step for continuing the Church’s synodal journey is for diocesan and parish leaders to review in depth the key takeaways and discern what priorities are appropriate and accomplishable for a given community. Some of the concerns raised, such as those regarding official statements relating to the LGBTQIA+ community, require a magisterial response. The vast majority, however, can be addressed at the local level to strengthen the vitality of the Diocese of Nashville. Another suggested next step is to continue the act of active listening following the Synod on Synodality. Such listening could take place on the parish or diocesan levels and proceed in a different manner from the current journey. What is most important is that the Church continues this journey together in lived synodality, listening to the Holy Spirit and reflecting the will of God.
Source: Diocese_of_Nashville_Synod_Synthesis.pdf (dioceseofnashville.com)
LGBTQA+ Catholics. LGBTQA+ Catholics and their families spoke about feeling unwelcome in the Church and, in some instances, afraid for their safety. Others had questions about the Church’s position and the ways that individuals and communities can provide pastoral support.
EMERGING ACTIONS Below are pastoral priorities identified during the diocesan pre-synodal gathering held on June 11, 2022.
· COMMUNION 1. Form hospitality teams. 2. Celebrate ethnic and cultural traditions. 3. Strengthen ministry to LGBTQ+/same-sex attracted Catholics. 4. Continue the synodal listening process with the marginalized. 5. Provide opportunities for healing and reconciliation. 6. Offer formation for pastoral leaders to easily recognize biases, increase sensitivity and inspire respect and inclusion for all, (i.e. sensitivity retreat). 7. Promote ways to build community in parishes. 8. Foster ecumenical relationships. 9. Promote peer-led small Christian communities. 10. Develop ministry with grandparents. 11. Strengthen family ministry.
MISSIONARY ACTION As part of the synodal process, we were encouraged to take special care to reach out to the peripheries, to those who have left the Church, those who rarely or never practice their faith, those who experience poverty or marginalization, refugees, the excluded, the voiceless, etc. We all know someone disconnected from the Church. Therefore, we asked everyone who participated in the listening sessions to consider taking one extra step, as a missionary action, to have a one-onone conversation with someone they know who falls into this category. The conversation starters recommended were the same as the ones for the narrative approach during the gathered listening sessions. A similar process of missionary action was implemented during the Fifth National Encuentro for Hispanic / Latino Ministry. In addition, the diocesan team and parishes made special efforts to reach out to specific groups of people including: · Catholic Charities (family, disability, and outpatient mental health services) · The incarcerated, their families and administrators from correctional facilities · LGBT family support groups · Bereavement support groups · Non-Catholics (Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Orthodox, Protestant) · CYO coaches 4 · The homebound · Parents · Youth and young adults · Fallen-away or inactive Catholics
CONCLUSION The synodal process in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland was a very positive experience. More than double the expected number of parishes participated in the listening sessions. We were also able to reach several groups in the peripheries -- the homebound, cultural communities, persons with disabilities, the incarcerated, the LGBTQ+ and their families -- though not as many as we would have liked. Many parishes are continuing with the listening process in their communities. Some have also begun to share results from the consultation at the local and diocesan levels and to implement the recommended actions. Although the feedback received was not surprising, it has helped to identify pastoral priorities for the diocese. We will continue to reflect on what we heard and discern ways to move forward towards deeper communion, fuller participation and more fruitful mission.
Source: Synod Diocesan Synthesis Report (dioceseofcleveland.org)
LGBTQ Persons: Concerning LGBTQ persons, inclusion and acceptance is identified in ways such as: acknowledging their humanity, showing compassion and concern for their struggles, listening to their experiences in life, setting aside judgment and prejudice and welcoming them to receive the sacraments. These calls are strongly presented in all forms of our synodal listening: group sessions, one-to-one, self-guided and submitted reports. They are represented in each of the demographic categories as well: all ages, locations, family status and engagement/regularity of worship and Church activity attendance. One particular report from a group provides multiple examples of growing in hope and vision for the Church through greater openness of hearts: “We ask that priests and Church leadership willingly listen to parents and LGBTQ persons who are still faithful Catholics as well as those who have left. Families have understandings that celibate men don’t have. The Spirit speaks through us also. We ask that Church personnel stop judging based on rigid traditions and look at the person and at the fruits of a relationship.”The hopes of many participants are accompanied by pain and personal stories or experiences of exclusion.
Source: STC-Synod | Catholic Magazines