The Diocese of Parramatta in New South Wales, Australia, under the leadership of Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, invited LGBTQIA+ Catholics in the diocese to a conversation for the Synod of Bishops with the question, “If you had 10 minutes with Pope Francis, what would you say?” A group came together and in two meetings agreed on a statement that was presented to the diocese as a contribution to the diocese’s overall synthesis.
The statement notes that “The pain, suffering, silencing and ostracisation that LGBTQIA+ Catholics have had, and still experience from parts of our church, urgently calls us to this synodal journey. Rather than being a refuge for all, these experiences often result in LGBTQIA+ Catholics and their families turning away from the Church as they feel abandoned by their faith community. These hurtful experiences add further trauma and pain, causing many LGBTQIA+ Catholics to despair, fuelling self-hatred and for some, tragically, self-harm.”
The statement continues: ” to be a truly inclusive church, we know that many Catholics affirm that there must be brave and open dialogue that is followed by active and intentional ministry journeying together. LGBTQIA+ Catholics are serving in every part and level of the church that we love, even when parts of the church wilfully ignore our realities, our stories and even our existence. The sacredness of LGBTQIA+ families, our loving and faith-filled relationships, our children and communities are signs of God’s unconditional love and providence”.
With the desire to affirm a theology, a pastoral approach and the possibility of ministries for LGBTQIA+, a clear accusation is also made: ” Harmful language that is pastorally unsound is weaponised to abuse LGBTQIA+ people. These ministries, theologies and pastoral approaches need to be resourced and promulgated widely and courageously. Terms that attribute homosexuality as ‘intrinsically evil’ and ‘objectively disordered’ need to be removed from the lexicon of our Church “
The conclusion is quite encouraging: ” When LGBTQIA+ Catholics have been actively welcomed, valued and affirmed for who they are, they become encouraged and empowered to live their lives authentically, and flourish as God’s people. This is what it means to journey together as a synodal Church, as One Body of Christ.”