The “working document,” released today, that will guide discussion at this fall’s Vatican synod on the family doesn’t reflect a lot of outreach to LGBT people — and LGBT Catholic groups are objecting.
Drawing on an earlier version of the document that arose from last year’s bishops’ meeting, “it repeats that gays should be welcomed and respected, as church teaching requires, and that the church should provide special pastoral care for gays and their families,” the Associated Press reports. “But it goes no further.”
It does not restore language that bishops excised from the document last year that many LGBT Catholics found encouraging, as it mentioned the “gifts and qualities” gay people can offer the church and the “precious support” same-sex partners offer each other. (The church teaches that sexual activity between people of the same sex is a sin.)
The portions of the paper dealing with LGBT issues “hardly reflect the rich discussions which have taken place, internationally and at all levels in the Church, on the welcome, respect, and value which should be afforded to lesbian and gay people in the Catholic community,” says a press release from the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, a coalition of LGBT-supportive groups.
The coalition also denounces the document’s “unfounded statement” that international organizations are threatening poor countries with a loss of financial aid if they do not adopt marriage equality. The church should instead condemn countries that criminalize LGBT identity, with punishments including torture and the death penalty, the group said in its release.
The group proposes alternative language for the document, including that condemnation of LGBT oppression, and a call for the church to “renew its theological reflections on human sexuality and gender identity.” The church should involve LGBT people, including committed same-sex couples, in these discussions both at the local and global levels, the coalition says.
The synod will be held October 4-25 at the Vatican, and will be attended by bishops from around the world. It will deal with a broad range of family issues, including divorce, remarriage, and birth control. In presenting the working document at a news conference today, Archbishop Bruno Forte said no topic will be off-limits, Reuters reports.
After the meeting, the bishops will send a document to Pope Francis, who has final say over its contents. He will then issue “an ‘Apostolic Exhortation’ which the faithful are obliged to adhere to,” Reuters notes.