Four Spaniards - a theologian, two nuns and a laywoman - are among the pioneering women who have participated for the first time in the Vatican Synod, the assembly that brought together in Rome during the month of October bishops, nuns and lay people from all over the world to address the most important issues for the Catholic Church. In the image (left to right) the theologian Cristina Inogés, the Nicaraguan nun living in Spain, Xiskya Valladares, the nun of the Hijas de Jesús congregation, María Luisa Berzosa and Eva Fernández, president of Acción Católica. EFE/ Javier Romualdo

Synod calls for study of deaconesses, celibacy, and “different sexual orientations”

Cristina Cabrejas

Vatican City, Oct. 28 (EFE) – The final document of the Synod, the assembly of Catholic bishops and lay people that met in October, has deferred for further study the most divisive and controversial topics, such as the diaconate for women, celibacy or how to address the issue of accepting people of “different sexual orientations”, in order to make proposals for the 2024 session.

The document was approved by more than two-thirds of the assembly, but the points about studying the diaconate for women and the possibility of eliminating celibacy received the most votes against.

No decisions were expected in this phase of the assembly, which deals with issues for the future of the church, as there is still a year of debate in the various dioceses around the world and another meeting in October 2024.

However, there is a sense that no agreements have been reached on the most controversial issues, which is why a period of study has been requested, although the door has not been closed for the time being.

“There is still a way to go, there is another year. The Synod does not end here,” said the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, in a press conference about the numerous questions proposed in the final text.

In the final document, all references to the “LGTBIQ” nomenclature, which was used in the basic text and which was included at the request of the faithful from all over the world, disappeared, and it was preferred to talk about people with different “sexual orientations”.

Since October 4, the Vatican hosted this meeting, one of the most important of the Roman Catholic Church, to reflect on questions about its future.

It was attended by 464 participants, 364 with voting rights and, for the first time, lay people, including 54 women.

Two-thirds of the participants were bishops, who until this synod were the only ones with voting rights.

The Power of Women and deaconesses

The presence of religious and lay women was noted, since the chapter dedicated to the mission of women in the Church is much more forceful.

However, any reference to the possibility of female priesthood has disappeared.

Concerning the “new ministries” that women can exercise, or the so-called deaconesses, it was decided to continue the study because of the differences, and the conclusions will be taken to the final session.

Among the issues to be addressed in the future are “the call for greater recognition and appreciation of the contribution of women and for an increase in the pastoral responsibilities entrusted to them in all areas of the life and mission of the Church. “

Also the end of economic discrimination and a more inclusive language.

Deepen the commitment to celibacy

Another topic that was addressed but postponed was celibacy.

Although the document emphasizes that “everyone appreciates its prophetic value and the witness of identification with Christ, some wonder if its theological adaptation to the priestly ministry must necessarily be translated into a disciplinary obligation in the Latin Church, especially where ecclesial and cultural contexts make it more difficult”.

On this question, the document concludes simply: “This is not a new topic, it needs to be studied”.

In this regard, for the formation of seminarians, it is recommended to “deepen emotional and sexual formation in order to support their emotional maturation”.

Greater study of sexual orientation and LGTBIQ disappeared from the text.

“In various ways, people who feel marginalized or excluded from the Church because of their marital situation, their identity and their sexuality also ask to be heard and accompanied, and for their dignity to be defended,” it reads.

The Synod proposes that “listening is a prerequisite for walking together in search of God’s will” and that “Christians cannot disrespect the dignity of any person”.

But while the initial working text referred to welcoming LGTBIQ people, this nomenclature disappeared in the final document at the request of some participants.

The document also acknowledges that some issues, such as those related to gender identity and sexual orientation, the end of life, difficult marital situations and ethical issues related to artificial intelligence, are controversial not only in society but also in the church because they raise new questions.

For this reason, the document states that “improvement and deeper study are needed” and that “it is important to take the time necessary for this reflection and to invest our best energies in it, without giving in to simplistic judgments that hurt people and the body of the Church.” EFE