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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 2, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 44
Catholic bishops drop 'LGBT' and 'gay' from Synod on Youth documents
Section One
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Catholic bishops drop 'LGBT' and 'gay' from Synod on Youth documents

Only 'sexual inclination' is allowed

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Roman Catholic Church's Synod on Youth concluded October 27 with a final vote on a 60-page document that is supposed to provide guidance for Catholic clergy on how to reach out to young people.

A synod is a global summit of Catholic bishops, summoned by the Pope to weigh in on crucial issues facing the Church.

In spite of the fact that the working draft of the document included references to 'LGBT' youth, the final paper approved by the bishops makes no mention of 'LGBT' or 'gay' youth. Instead, the document approved by the bishops makes vague references to 'sexual inclination.'

According to the Religion News Service, Section 150 of the final document - the part that addresses LGBT youth - passed by only two votes, even in its watered-down version.

The Religion News Service is a nondenominational group covering all major faith groups. It was founded in 1934 as an affiliate of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Bishops from Africa, their conservative allies in North America, and several conservative Catholic media outlets had lobbied hard to eliminate any language that could be seen as affirming LGBT identity, the Religion News Service said.

A number of progressive European and US bishops called for the use of more explicitly inclusive terminology to welcome LGBT young people into the church. On the other side, conservative bishops were concerned that language that seemed to welcome LGBT people might undermine Catholic teaching against same-sex marriage.

'The final language seemed likely to please neither side while effectively giving bishops greater latitude in welcoming LGBT people if they wanted to, and using the wording they preferred,' the news service noted.

An article in the progressive Catholic newspaper The Tablet described the omission of explicit language welcoming LGBT Catholics as a 'missed opportunity for the Church,' adding that it was 'a chance to build bridges with young Gay people, to demonstrate a keenness to love and listen, that was sacrificed to a reflexive obsession with preserving the status quo.'

The less-than-forthright language on LGBT issues was not the only compromise reflected in the final document from the synod. According to a report by National Catholic Reporter, a call for 'zero tolerance' for child abusers in an early draft was stripped out in the final version.

Bishops from English-speaking countries, in particular, fought to include strong language against child abuse in the final document, but bishops from the developing world were adamant that the issue not be emphasized too strongly.

In the end, the bishops singled out 'clericalism' as a chief culprit in the clergy scandals. Clericalism, the document said, is a phenomenon born from 'an elitist and exclusionary' view of the priesthood that allows clergy to exercise power over the vulnerable rather than serving them.

In all, 167 separate items were passed by the synod and incorporated into the final document.

A number of young people were allowed to sit in and speak at the meeting, but they were not allowed to vote.

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