Results of Amazon Synod Mixed for the Church, Bad News for Women and LGBTQI People, Says Gay Catholic Organization

October 27, 2019. The final document of the recently concluded Amazon Synod is a mixed bag, say leaders of DignityUSA, the organization of Catholics committed to equality, justice, and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people in church and society. They praise the commitment to protecting an ecology that has been under siege and respect for indigenous peoples and cultures, the willingness to make the church’s sacraments more accessible, and the influence those closest to the issues had in the Synod, but express deep concern about the perpetuation of injustice towards women and LGBTQI people.

“The Amazon Synod was remarkable for the ways in which the lives and voices of those most deeply impacted by environmental destruction and economic imperialism were at the center of the deliberations,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA. “We applaud the Synod’s commitment to ending and working to reverse the decades of destruction wrought upon the Amazon region. We join in the Church’s stated commitment to respecting and protecting indigenous peoples and their cultures.”

Duddy-Burke also celebrated the recognition that current church policies deprive too many Catholics of regular access to sacraments, and noted the Synod’s recommendation that priesthood be opened to some married men. “DignityUSA concurs with Synod participants who saw removing barriers to the celebration of sacraments, which are so central to the Catholic community, as a top priority for the Church. We believe that opening ordained ministry to a wider circle of people is critical in ensuring all Catholics can exercise their Baptismal rights. DignityUSA has long believed that God’s call to serve the church is not limited by age, gender, sexual orientation, or marital or relational status, and is pleased to see church officials opening a window.”

Nevertheless, there were significant problems with the Synod, Duddy-Burke said. “The fact that women had voice but no vote at this gathering, and that women who are already serving Catholic communities throughout the Amazon were not welcomed to ordained ministry perpetuates injustice. Women’s service and leadership should be given the same status as that of their male counterparts. This was a real failure of the Synod.”

Duddy-Burke also noted that LGBTQI people experienced continued exclusion in the document. “The blatant attempt to ban gay men from priesthood through the requirement that only married men with ‘a legitimately constituted and stable family’ be considered for ordination is extremely disappointing,” she said. “We continue to be marginalized and God’s embrace of our community is denied by the church.”

Duddy-Burke concluded, “There are signs of hope for our church and the world in this gathering and in the final document. However, it is also clear that our church has a long way to go before it truly recognizes and celebrates the dignity of every human being, regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. So our work goes on.”

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DignityUSA is the world’s oldest organization of Catholics working for LGBTQI equality, justice and full inclusion in the church and society. Founded in 1969, it is a founding member of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.