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Westminster: LGBT community responds to Synod final document

LGBT Catholics in the Diocese of Westminster have issued the following statement in response to the Family Synod's Final report. they write: 

The 14th Extraordinary Synod of Bishops Final Report, released on 18 October 2014, fails significantly to reflect the welcoming and pastorally sensitive discussions which took place during the first week of the Synod. These were summarised in the Relatio, published on 13 October, and although not having official status as a formal working document, this interim document signposted ways in which Synod participants, bishops, priests, and laity were approaching a range of sensitive issues, not least the concerns of lesbian and gay people, their parents and families. Nevertheless, the Synod's process and openness to discussion provides hope for further development down the road, particularly at the October 2015 Ordinary Synod, where the make-up of the participants will be larger and more diverse, including many more pastorally-oriented bishops.

As LGBT Catholics in the Diocese of Westminster we regret that the Synod's final report did not retain the firm welcome to LGBT people expressed in the summary of the Synod’s first-week’s discussions, and something we have experienced in our local Church in recent years. So much of the earlier reflections echoed the tone of the late Cardinal Basil Hume’s pastoral approach to our communities. Instead, the bishops have taken a narrow view of pastoral care by defining it simply as opposition to marriage for same-gender couples. Pastoral care should focus with compassion on LGBT people as total human beings. Many of them have suffered significant alienation and personal harm, and not just as sexual beings. Pastoral care should also affirm the gifts that LGBT people bring to the Church.

Additionally, their further comment about supposed "international pressure" to accept same-gender marriage selfishly views the hierarchy as the victims, not LGBT people. The Synod has missed the prophetic opportunity to be a voice for those voiceless LGBT people worldwide, who experience gross criminalisation to the point of torture and death, and for whom the attainment of their human rights seems to be an impossible dream. Given the Synod’s original Working Document’s reference to the pastoral needs of same-sex couples, and children in same-sex families, the Bishops have also failed to
address these concerns.

We note that the paragraphs on homosexuality which did not receive the required 2/3rd‘s vote, failed by only two votes, notwithstanding significant support from a majority of bishops. Second, this report is not the final word, but as a Vatican spokesperson explained, it is still a working document which will be discussed in the coming year. We now call upon the Vatican and local Bishops’ Conferences to institute Listening Processes over the coming year, to include LGBT people, parents, and other family members, alongside theologians and experienced pastoral ministers.

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