Today, Bondings 2.0 inaugurates a new occasional series: “Where Do We Go From Here? The Road to Synod 2015.” Over the course of the next several months, we will be featuring posts by a variety of contributors examining the question of what Catholics—laity and leaders—can do over the coming year as the Church prepares for the October 2015 Synod on Marriage and Family. Some of these will be original posts written for this blog, and some will be synopses and comments on articles originally published elsewhere.
This past October’s preparatory synod was remarkable for the openness of discussion about many topics, especially lesbian and gay issues. The conversation about sexuality has finally begun in the Church! Though the final report was not what we had hoped for, we now know that there are a number of bishops who are willing to speak out towards a more compassionate and equal pastoral approach for LGBT people.
Instead of dwelling on the past, let’s look toward the future. How do we get from this significant milestone to a more positive significant milestone at the 2015 meeting?
All Bondings 2.0 readers are invited to participate in this discussion by sending us their own answer to the question “Where do we go from here?” Guidelines for potential posts can be found by clicking here. You can submit your short essays to: info@NewWaysMinistry.org.
For the first installment in this series, we feature a National Catholic Reporter essay written by New Ways Ministry co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick. She starts off her essay by criticizing the bishops at the synod for backtracking on their earlier, more positive draft report:
“Do these bishops know what it means to show a pastoral face? Wasn’t this synod called to discuss ‘pastoral issues?’ LGBT persons and their allies did not make excessive demands. They were seeking some kind words of welcome.”
But, criticizing the past synod was not Sr. Jeannine’s main aim. Instead, she intended to talk about the future:
“As we move ahead to the Ordinary Synod on the Family in October 2015, LGBT Catholics and their allies have a lot of work to do. It is the work of conversations and discussions with our bishops. Now is the time for LGBT Catholics, their parents, and friends to raise their voices and tell their stories to church leaders.
“I am reminded of a story told by Bishop Joseph Sullivan of Brooklyn before his tragic death last year in an auto accident. In one of his conversations with New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop Sullivan mentioned that the language used in church documents or public statements from bishops is often perceived as harsh and unfeeling by LGBT people and their friends. Cardinal Dolan responded that the people he hears from tell him the language is not severe enough.
“How can we expect our church leaders to open their hearts to conversion if we do not provide them with stories for their ears to hear? How can we complain that bishops are insensitive to what LGBT people suffer if we do not take the time to dialogue with them?”
In conclusion, she urged all individuals to take personal responsibility and write to their local bishops, and even to the pope:
“It is time for each of us to write a letter or ask for some dialogue time with our bishop. The “culture warriors” are continually phoning, writing letters or meeting bishops to communicate their opinions. It is time for our bishops to understand that these attitudes represent a minority view. The bishops need to hear from the progressive members of our church.
“There is one more letter I feel we should write. It is a letter to Pope Francis, asking him to appoint some LGBT persons and couples as official observers to the Extraordinary Synod so that the bishops can hear personal testimonies of the faith life of LGBT Catholics. I remember the colorful banner that some members of the National Coalition of American Nuns unfurled in St. Peter’s Square in 1994 during the Synod on Religious Life. ‘No speaking about us without us,’ the nuns said. It may be time to do what the sisters said.”
Again, Bondings 2.0 is interested in your ideas about how to move forward to the 2015 synod. Click here for more information.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry