Vatican Synod Concludes Without Definite Decision on Female Deacons and LGBT Inclusion

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Photo: Twitter Screenshot - Reuters

After a month of deliberation, the Vatican’s extensive meeting on the Roman Catholic Church’s future ended on Saturday with no clear resolutions regarding contentious matters, including the role of women as deacons and the inclusion of the LGBT community. 

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This Synod of Bishops, following a pioneering two-year survey of ordinary Catholics, brought together 365 participants, comprising 300 bishops and around 50 laymen and laywomen.

In a historic move, Pope Francis granted women and laypeople the right to vote on Church matters for the first time. These participants will reconvene for a final session in a year, with the Pope expected to draft a document addressing the Church’s pressing issues.

According to a report by Premier, the Synod released a final document consisting of 81 paragraphs, each receiving at least two-thirds approval. Notably, two paragraphs addressed the prospect of ordaining women as deacons, despite the majority of participants voting against them. One paragraph acknowledged differing viewpoints, while the other called for further study before the next Synod session.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, one of the organizers, expressed his surprise at the number of affirmative votes on women deacons, suggesting that resistance might be less substantial than anticipated.

However, some individuals expressed disappointment via social media that the Synod’s final report did not take a firm stance on LGBT issues. There was prior speculation that the Synod might encourage the Church to be more inclusive of the LGBT community.

The final document contained one paragraph that stated, “In different ways, people who feel marginalized or excluded from the Church because of their marriage status, identity or sexuality, also ask to be heard and accompanied.” While it conveyed a sense of love, mercy, and compassion for those who have felt hurt or overlooked by the Church, it did not advocate for enhanced inclusion.

Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, an organization ministering to LGBT Catholics, expressed his disappointment with the report, stating that it fell short of expectations. He emphasized the importance of the Catholic Church aligning with its principles of being an inclusive community where all are welcomed, respected, and treated equally.

During a podcast discussion with Christopher Lamb in Rome, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, an English Dominican friar and regarded as the “spiritual father” of the Synod, highlighted the central issue, which is not whether the Church’s teachings will change, but rather, whether it will demonstrate love and acceptance toward all individuals. He suggested that if changes are to occur, they will happen gradually.

The landmark gathering concluded with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica. 

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