Catholic bishops are entering their final week of debate over hot-button issues facing young Catholics, including how the church should welcome gays and respond to the clerical sex abuse scandal that has discredited many in the church hierarchy.
The monthlong synod of bishops ends next Saturday with the adoption by the 260-plus cardinals, bishops and priests of a final document and approval of a separate, shorter letter to the world’s Catholic youth.
Some of the youth delegates to the meeting have insisted that the final document express an inclusive message to make LGBT Catholics feel welcome in a church that has often shunned them.
The Vatican took a step in that direction by making a reference to “LGBT” for the first time in its preparatory document heading into the meeting.
But some bishops have balked at the notion, including Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who insisted in his speech that “there is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are.”
But other bishops have expressed a willingness to use the language, though it remains to be seen if the final document or the letter will. Each paragraph will be voted on one by one and must obtain a two-thirds majority.
“The youth are talking about it freely and in the language they use, and they are encouraging us ‘Call us, address us this because this is who we are,’” Papua New Guinea Cardinal John Ribat told a press conference Saturday.
One of those young people, Yadira Vieyra, who works with migrant families in Chicago, said gays often feel attacked and shunned by the church.