The Vatican finally figured out an appropriate way to address the LGBT community.
In a planning document for upcoming meeting The Synod of Bishops, The Vatican used the term “LGBT” for what may be the first time ever in official documents.
The 32,000-word text stated although much of the younger generation disagrees with the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage and other hot-button issues, they still “express the desire to remain part of the Church.”
It also stated “some LGBT youth … wish to ‘benefit from greater closeness’ and experience greater care from the Church,” according to the National Catholic Reporter, which translated snippets of the documents from its original Italian to English.
According to a journalist at the NCR, “Catholic Church has in the past formally referred to gay people as ‘persons with homosexual tendencies.’" More recently, the phrase has been replaced with “homosexuals” and Pope Francis commonly uses the word “gay” in interviews and press conferences.
The NCR notes a section of the synod outline called “the body, affectivity and sexuality” has a passage that states: “Sociological studies demonstrate that many young Catholics do not follow the indications of the Church’s sexual moral teachings. … No bishops’ conference offers solutions or recipes, but many are of the point of view that questions of sexuality must be discussed more openly and without prejudice.”
Rev. Thomas Rosica, who often serves as English assistant to The Vatican’s press office, agrees this is the first use, but believes “they’re just using the lingo young people use. There’s nothing earth-shattering.”
Vatican spokeswoman Paloma Garcia Ovejero declined comment to The Washington Post about this term usage, claiming “I guess there’s no specific answer [for using the term] … it’s just the result of so many proposals and will be used as a ‘tool’ for discussion.”
But not everyone brushed it off. Executive Director of New Ways Ministry Francis DeBarnardo told TWP the use of the term LGBT is important, seeing as The Vatican previously used terms like “homosexual inclinations.”
“That said, there is nothing in this new document that indicates a change in church teaching. It simply indicates a new openness to discuss these issues more respectfully. How they actually conduct the synod, and, more importantly, what the final synod document will say, is much more important than these developments,” he added.
That’s not all The Vatican has done recently to acknowledge the LGBT community — officials also invited a prominent LGBT rights advocate to a second global meeting, known as the World Meeting of Families in August. American Jesuit Rev. Jim Martin will be the first speaker at a World Meeting to discuss “positive pastoral outreach to LGBT people” at the a Vatican-run event, according to the Associated Press.
Martin told the AP it was “immensely significant” that he could present on the subject because it showed “that LGBT Catholics and their parents are an important part of our church … The message from the Vatican to LGBT Catholics is this: you belong.”
Rosica claimed both these moves are a way for Pope Francis’s church to express “we have to pay attention to this whole LGBT reality, especially for those who have chosen to remain in the church,” as he told TWP.