Vatican Synod Concludes Without Clear Stance on Controversial Issues

Vatican Synod Concludes Without Clear Stance on Controversial Issues

The Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, a pivotal month-long assembly discussing the Roman Catholic Church’s forward path, wrapped up on Saturday. However, it left pivotal matters, including the potential ordination of female deacons and the recognition of the LGBT community, without clear resolution.

The unprecedented gathering, which followed a two-year consultation with everyday Catholics, saw 365 participants, comprising 300 bishops, lay men, and about 50 mostly lay women. This synod marked a historical moment as Pope Francis granted women and lay individuals the right to vote on Church matters. These participants will reconvene for a final session next year, after which the pope is expected to draft a document addressing the challenges the Church faces.

The result of the synod

The synod’s outcome was a final document consisting of 81 paragraphs, each receiving at least a two-thirds majority approval. Of these, two paragraphs touched on the contentious subject of the possible ordination of women as deacons. Both passed, albeit with the highest number of dissenting votes. One paragraph merely highlighted the contrasting views on the matter, while the other suggested further exploration before the subsequent synod session.

Commenting on the substantial negative votes on the issue of women deacons, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, one of the event’s organizers, expressed his surprise, noting the resistance was “not as great as people have thought”.

LGBT issues

Despite prior speculations, the final report did not take a definitive position on LGBT-related matters. A paragraph in the document stated that individuals marginalized or alienated from the Church due to their marital status, identity, or sexuality “ask to be heard and accompanied”. Although the synod expressed deep compassion and love for those feeling sidelined or wounded by the Church’s stance, it did not make a direct call for broader inclusion.

Francis DeBernardo, who leads New Ways Ministry, catering to LGBT Catholics, expressed disappointment with the report. He hoped for a more affirmative stance and stressed the Church’s imperative to uphold its ideals of inclusivity, respect, and equality.

Pope Francis is set to officially conclude the gathering with a ceremonial Mass on Sunday at St. Peter’s Basilica, marking the end of this chapter but not the discussions it has ignited.