US Catholic bishops’ report to the Vatican shows a church split by politics

VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Catholics in the United States are deeply divided over issues as diverse as LGBTQ inclusion, sexual abuse by clergy and the celebration of the liturgy, according to a summary of consultations held in recent months as part of the Pope’s dioceses in the United States were conducted across the country Francis Synod on Synodality.

“Participants felt this division as a deep sense of pain and anxiety,” the US bishops wrote in a summary released to the public Monday (September 19), after being sent to the Vatican last month.

In 2021, Francis launched a global discussion calling on parish churches and a variety of other religious organizations to gather their congregations to talk about how they view the hierarchy and the problems facing the church. The discussion would inform a summit of bishops planned for October 2023 in the Vatican on “For a Synodal Church: Participation, Communion and Mission”.

The bishops’ conferences were tasked with collecting community-level comments and sending them to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which prepared a report for the Vatican.

To gather the information of the more than 66.8 million Catholics living in the United States, the bishops divided the country into 15 administrative regions, including one representing the Eastern Churches. Contributions from Catholic organizations and individuals have been grouped into 16th Region.

A total of 290 documents were sent to US bishops for summary.

In a section of the document titled “Enduring Wounds,” the bishops wrote that Catholics have brought into the pews divisions that have arisen in the political arena, including views on the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass.

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A controversy over whether pro-Choice Catholic politicians, including President Joe Biden, should be allowed to receive Communion at Mass has fractured Catholic communities in recent years, prompting US bishops to end a three-year trial in To initiate $28 million in “Restoration” and “Revival” “The Eucharist.

Pope Francis’ decision last year to severely restrict the celebration of Mass in the ancient Latin rite, which the pope believed had become a rallying ground for conservative dissent, has prompted some Catholics to “explain the level of hostility” and the “Feeling” to lament in rite church, USCCB report said.

The polarization has also affected the church hierarchy, with divisions between bishops — and sometimes between bishops and the pope — becoming “a source of serious scandal,” the summary said.

“In turn, this perceived lack of unity within the hierarchy appears to justify division at the local level,” the document said.

Associated with the theme of polarization was “marginalization”. The report highlighted the demands of many Catholics for the church to become a more welcoming and open space. Two groups that are most marginalized are those who lack social or economic power and those whose lifestyles are condemned by church teaching.

Migrants, ethnic minorities, the unborn and the poor are among the first group, according to the document, which also includes women “whose voices are often marginalized in church decision-making processes.”

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The second group included members of the LGBTQ community, as well as divorced and civilly remarried couples. “Concerns about how to respond to the needs of these diverse groups emerged in each synthesis,” the document says.

The issue of LGBTQ Catholics was of particular concern as “virtually all synodal consultations” found that the lack of reception was at least partly responsible for the blood loss of young people from the church. “The hope for a welcoming church was clearly expressed in the desire to authentically accompany LGBTQ+ people and their families,” the summary reads.

American Catholics also called for greater lay participation, again emphasizing women. “There was a desire for greater leadership, discernment and decision-making for women – both lay and religious – in their parishes and communities,” says the report.

Catholic doctrine forbids women from becoming deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals, or popes, and restricts their role in the liturgy, interpreting the masculinity of Jesus and his disciples as sanctioning an all-male liturgy and clergy . The church also condemns homosexual acts as a sin and considers gay people to be “intrinsically disturbed”.

The divisions and politics tearing at the Catholic Church in the United States are related to “the unfolding effects of the sex abuse crisis,” the document said. “The sin and crime of sexual abuse has not only eroded trust in the hierarchy and moral integrity of the church, but has also created a culture of fear that keeps people from forming a relationship and thus from experiencing a sense of belonging and connection they crave.”

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Despite these challenges, the bishops said, Catholics shared a desire for more church activities, particularly for families, to be experienced together, and called for better training for seminarians and a greater focus on how to translate sermons into action.

The report conveyed to the Vatican the “skepticism and distrust” that hung over the synodal discussions as the process got under way. But once the faithful embraced the listening spirit of the discussions, the bishops said, the meetings were embraced as “seeds of renewal” to heal fractures in the communion.

“The Synodal Consultations surrounding the lingering wounds caused by the clergy sex abuse scandal, the pandemic, polarization and marginalization have a deep hunger for healing and a strong desire for fellowship, fellowship and a sense of belonging and unity disclosed,” the bishops wrote.

The U.S. bishops’ summary, along with those from hundreds of bishops’ conferences around the world, is currently being studied at the Vatican, which will release a document in the coming weeks to guide discussions by faith groups and organizations divided into seven “continents.” are groups.”

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