Perspectives on the Synod

In March 2020, Pope Francis announced a major event in the life of the church: the Synod on Synodality. Built around the themes of communion, participation and mission, the pope called this Synod—the 16th such meeting since its reintroduction by Pope St. Paul VI in 1965—“what the Lord expects from the church of the third millennium.” It is a “walk together,” a way of proceeding driven by the Holy Spirit and implemented by the People of God.

In 2023, more than 360 people from around the world—bishops and cardinals, religious sisters and clergy, members of the laity and Outreach’s own James Martin, S.J.—gathered in Rome to discern where the Holy Spirit may lead the Catholic Church. The October meeting marked the opening of the Synod’s “universal phase,” which was preceded by listening sessions and opinion gathering at the diocesan and continental levels. The Synod is set to conclude with a final gathering next year.

Are you curious about the perspectives of Synod attendees? Do you wonder what this global gathering will mean for the future of the church? Outreach has you covered.

Check back here as we feature analysis and commentary on the Synod from participants, theologians, LGBTQ people and those who minister with them.

Images from the Synod

All photos courtesy of James Martin, S.J., unless otherwise stated.

Elizabeth Sweeny Block / December 5, 2023

The Synod emphasized the lived experience of the faithful. This must include LGBTQ people.

Genuine reciprocal listening, dialogue and communal discernment would include a diversity of perspectives and make space for the LGBTQ community.

Brandan Robertson / November 22, 2023

As a gay Protestant pastor, I have mixed reactions to the Synod report

While I understand the challenge for the Synod to explicitly affirm LGBTQ people, these two references feel like too little at best and patronizing at worst.

Cristina L.H. Traina / November 16, 2023

Synod report reveals compromise and disagreement on gender and sexuality

By providing a pathway to deeper discernment, and not simply urging consensus, the report signals that the church’s cooperation with the Holy Spirit is ongoing

Outreach Staff / November 14, 2023

Watch: Father James Martin on LGBTQ people and his optimistic view of the Synod process

In July, Pope Francis personally appointed Outreach editor James Martin, S.J., to the Synod on Synodality, a two-part worldwide gathering in Rome attended by more than 360 prelates, clergy members and lay people.

James Martin, S.J. / November 3, 2023

Father James Martin: I experienced the Synod as a spiritual journey

We had our differences, and maybe some of the delegates would never agree with me on LGBTQ issues, if they even used that term. That’s okay. As we were told often about the Council of Jerusalem, in the Acts of the Apostles, there was a lot of disagreement then, too.

Brody McCurdy / Grace Woodward / November 3, 2023

A queer Catholic and his Presbyterian friend journey to Rome for the Synod

It was a beautifully liberating moment, one of the first times in my life where I felt that pieces of myself—my queerness and my Catholicism—became truly integrated. I could be both/and instead of either/or in such a public way.

James Martin, S.J. / October 30, 2023

Father James Martin: My experience at the Synod

To my mind, that was the most important thing that occurred at the synod: Friendships were built across boundaries, within the boundary of our love for Christ, whose love knows no boundaries.

Ryan Di Corpo / October 28, 2023

The first Synod report addresses many topics. So where are LGBTQ people?

By multiple accounts, LGBTQ people—at least through their stories and struggles—were present in the Synod hall. But they are noticeably absent from this document.

Brian Flanagan / October 28, 2023

Why I’m happy to not know everything about the Synod

I hope that this privacy has enabled richer conversations freed from the limits of instantaneous, public debate. This shows just how different this assembly is from so many other forms of shared decision-making in our world.

Robert Shine / October 27, 2023

Will the Synod on Synodality really bring significant change for LGBTQ Catholics?

The hopeful “yes” to my question about significant change begins with the simple fact that the conversation is happening. At last, after decades of Catholics advocating for an open dialogue on issues of gender and sexuality, that dialogue has arrived, albeit in nascent form.

Ryan Di Corpo / October 25, 2023

Pope Francis shows support to LGBTQ Catholic groups as Synod meets

These papal meetings come amid widespread speculation and significant interest about discussions between Synod delegates on LGBTQ topics.

Outreach Staff / October 22, 2023

Watch: America editor Colleen Dulle reports from Rome on the Synod

Colleen Dulle, co-host of America Media’s “Inside the Vatican” podcast, talks with Outreach about secrecy at the Synod, criticism from some U.S. prelates and Pope Francis’s emphasis on dialogue and process.

Marc Frings / October 20, 2023

In both Germany and at the Vatican, synodality is strengthened by community

Mindful interaction with one another is an important companion of synodality, marked by joint deliberation and joint decision-making. It presupposes that we all perceive each other with our different roles and talents.

SimonMary Asese Aihiokhai / October 12, 2023

Synodality demonstrates fellowship with people on the peripheries, including LGBTQ Catholics

By its constant orientation to Christ, who makes a home with those at the margins, the church comes to the realization of its own identity—an identity that is always oriented towards otherness.

David Palmieri / October 7, 2023

Synodal documents reveal a shift in how the church describes LGBTQ people

Using this acronym is historic because the church has long persisted in an argument against these letters and their variations, at times denying that LGBTQ people, described as such, even exist.