The next major Vatican meet after this month’s Amazon Synod should be a forum on gender and sexuality, a leading US group of LGBTQ Catholics has suggested.

Driving the news

Robert Shine, associate editor of New Ways Ministry, made the suggestion this week in an editorial on the Amazon Synod underway in Rome.

“Once this Synod concludes, the pope should announce a new synod to consider gender and sexuality”, Shine wrote.

He acknowledged that “what surfaces from the listening may not be comfortable for some, and a conversion in the church will most certainly be required”.

“Still, the need is clear and pressing. It is time for the universal church to contemplate, in a contextual, particular manner, the LGBTQ community, which is also an epiphanic source of God’s revelation”.


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Go deeper

Shine was moved to his suggestion by aspects of the Amazon Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris, or working document, which Synod participants have now moved on to discussing in small groups.

The New Ways associate editor said “it was hard to believe it was a document produced by the Vatican”.

“Both the process of its development and the final product were far more in a Latin American theological vision than a European one”, Shine observed.

He highlighted in particular the working document’s focus on “deep listening to the people”.

Shine said that reflected in the Instrumentum laboris are the voices of tens of thousands of marginalised people who are the victims of injustices.

In the case of the Amazon peoples, those injustices include deforestation, extractivism and restrictions to their right to protest.

The working document then calls the wider Church to a “conversion” to the plight of the Amazon peoples, which it celebrates as a source of God’s revelation.

The Instrumentum laboris describes that “conversion” as a process of “unlearning, learning, and relearning” new ways to relate to ourselves, each other and the planet.

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Why it matters

But the Amazon Synod’s deep listening to injustices, the need for conversion and the process of unlearning and relearning could also be applied by the Church to its relations with the LGBTQ community, Shine observed.

“What if church leaders actually made space for and invested in extensive listening sessions where LGBTQ people could share their experiences of life and of faith?”, the associate editor of New Ways asked.

“What if the conversation were not only about what the church offers LGBTQ people, but what they offer the church? Even more radically, what if we posed the question of what a church with an LGBTQ face would be?”

Shine acknowledged that LGBTQ issues are unlikely to be discussed much in the Amazon Synod, at least compared to the 2014-15 Synods on the Family or the 2018 Synod on Young People.

“But that does not mean LGBTQ Catholic advocates should ignore an ecclesial event that could greatly impact our efforts for equality in the church”, the associate editor of New Ways affirmed.

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