The month-long Vatican Synod of Bishops, following an extensive two-year consultation with Catholics worldwide, concluded on Saturday with lingering uncertainties surrounding key issues, notably the role of women deacons and the welcoming of the LGBT community. Comprising 365 participants, including 300 bishops, laymen, and around 50 predominantly laywomen, this Synod marked a historic moment as Pope Francis granted women and laypeople the right to vote on Church matters for the first time.
The Quest for Clarity: During the Synod, discussions revolved around the potential ordination of women as deacons. While two paragraphs addressing this matter were included in the final document, they faced significant opposition despite gaining approval. One paragraph acknowledged the existence of differing viewpoints, while the other emphasized the necessity for further study before the next Synod session. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, one of the organizers, expressed surprise at the substantial number of favorable votes, suggesting that resistance to the idea might not be as significant as initially perceived.
LGBT Inclusion Remains Unresolved: However, the Synod fell short of taking a clear stance on LGBT issues, despite prior speculation that it might advocate for a more inclusive approach. The final document included a paragraph acknowledging the concerns of those who feel marginalized or excluded from the Church due to their marital status, identity, or sexuality. It expressed a sense of love, mercy, and compassion for these individuals but refrained from endorsing greater inclusion.
Disappointment Among Advocates: Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, an organization dedicated to supporting LGBT Catholics, voiced disappointment in the Synod’s report. He stated that it “greatly disappoints” those who had anticipated a more positive outcome. DeBernardo emphasized the importance of the Catholic Church living up to its ideals of being an inclusive community where everyone is welcomed, respected, and treated equally.
Closing Ceremony: Pope Francis is set to conclude the Synod with a ceremonial Mass on Sunday at St. Peter’s Basilica, marking the end of this pivotal gathering that, while advancing certain aspects of Church participation, leaves questions surrounding women deacons and LGBT inclusion unanswered.