Participants in the Synod on Synodality have asked “for greater discernment on the teaching of the Church on the subject of sexuality,” a Vatican spokesman said at a press briefing today.
The revelation seems to be at odds with synod organizers’ repeated insistence that the monthlong assembly will not take up doctrinal questions but will instead focus on how the Church can better listen to its members.
The discussion of sexual doctrine came during the synod members’ work in the morning session, shared Paolo Ruffini, the president of the synod’s communications commission. During that session, participants focused on the theme of “mercy and truth.” The theme includes a controversial question on “what concrete steps are needed to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church today because of their status or sexuality.”
Ruffini said that while some asked for further discernment on the Church’s sexual teaching, others “said there’s no need for this further discernment.”
Ruffini did not expand on what he meant by “discernment” and was not asked to clarify.
Members made the request for “greater discernment” of the Church’s sexual doctrine during the assembly’s discussion of the controversial topic of LGBTQ inclusion. Following the synod’s working document, participants were asked to consider “what concrete steps are needed to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church today because of their status or sexuality.”
Representatives for small groups assigned to the topic shared their table’s report with the wider assembly, while others made speeches in response.
Ruffini said that speeches addressing “sexual identity” were met with “responsibility and comprehension, remaining faithful to the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.” He added that there was widespread agreement that the Church “must reject every form of homophobia” and that the lack of familiarity with the personal journey of LGBTQ-identifying people leads to “many problems.”
Some speakers emphasized the importance of encountering LGBTQ people and developing pastoral ministries “to understand their lives,” said Ruffini, while others “highlighted the importance of remaining in the magisterial teaching of the Church.”