The Catholic Church is looking inward. A new document released today indicates that the church is aware of some outdated teachings and may consider a more significant role for women and LGBTQ+ people.
As part of Pope Francis's ongoing consultation process with Catholics worldwide, a new Vatican document covers several topics, including women's ordination, homosexuality, children of priests, sexism, and clergy abuse, which were once considered of utmost taboo within the Catholic Church, National Catholic Reporter reports.
Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, just mentioning many of the topics raised in the new document may have raised an alarm. Times have changed under Pope Francis who has been hailed by some for opening conversations about sexuality and other subjects within the Church.
"Among those who ask for a more meaningful dialogue and a more welcoming space, we also find those who, for various reasons, feel a tension between belonging to the Church and their own loving relationships, such as: remarried divorcees, single parents, people living in a polygamous marriage, LGBTQ people, etc.," the document states.
People desire that the church be a refuge for the wounded and broken, not an institution for the perfect, the United States report that was included in the document stated.
According to the report, the church should be patient and authentic rather than superior, walk alongside parishioners instead of judging them, and build genuine relationships.
The document also includes a discussion surrounding the role of women in the church.
"Women remain the majority of those who attend liturgy and participate in activities, men a minority; yet most decision-making and governance roles are held by men," it says. "It is clear that the Church must find ways to attract men to a more active membership in the Church and to enable women to participate more fully at all levels of Church life."
As with the section on LGBTQ+ matters, the National Catholic Reporter notes that the document cites one of the continental reports Pope Francis had commissioned worldwide. Here the contribution came from New Zealand, which states that a "lack of equality for women within the Church is seen as a stumbling block for the Church in the modern world."
In the document, the Catholic Church does not make any commitments, and it acknowledges that some are skeptical of its content and some fear that embracing it would allow church teachings to be decided by vote instead of interpreting them according to ancient doctrine.
"The path to greater inclusion — the enlarged tent — is a gradual one," the document states, as a reassurance to those who fear rapid change.