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Swiss bishops’ Synod report: Catholic Church denies equality to women and excludes LGBT people

AC Wimmer By AC Wimmer for CNA

The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Lungern, Switzerland / Shutterstock

CNA Newsroom, Aug 16, 2022 / 09:02 am (CNA).

On Monday, the Swiss Bishops’ Conference published a document for the upcoming Synod on Synodality in Rome reporting the Catholic Church was seen as suffering from clericalism —as well as “denying equality to women” and excluding “people with LGBTQ identity.”

“Several official church positions on the role of women in church and society, on sexuality and lifestyles are perceived as pejorative and exclusionary,” the Swiss report said according to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

“The Synodal Assembly of Switzerland, held on May 30, 2022, in Einsiedeln Abbey, finalized the report based on comments and requests for adjustments,” the bishops explained.

“This assembly had the task of combining the reports that emerged from the diocesan phase of the synod into an overall national report.”

The document says nothing about the number of participants in the surveys that were to be part of the worldwide synodal process.

In Germany, the “number of faithful who participated in the survey on the World Synod of Bishops in the dioceses” had been only “in the lowest single-digit percentage,” reported CNA Deutsch.

“In Switzerland, the debates and the synodal questionnaires raised awareness of the importance of baptism for the life of the Church,” the bishops said.

“It was emphasized that a synodal church increasingly recognizes ‘the royal, priestly and prophetic dignity and vocation’ of the baptized.”

Two points, in particular, were emphasized, namely “overcoming the experience that many people are excluded from full participation in the life of the church” and a critical examination “of the clericalism that still exists in some places.”

The report also said synodality would only succeed once “clericalism is overcome and an understanding of the priesthood increasingly develops as an element that promotes the life of a more synodically oriented church.”

On clericalism, the 11-page report said: “Criticism of the exercise of power by ministers is ignited by observations of clerical mentality, abuse of power, ignorance of the realities of life and culture in Switzerland, devaluation of women and rejection of people from the LGBTQ spectrum, retreat into individual identity notions of being a priest, lack of attention to people, disinterest in the poor, etc.”

In another section, the report also cites minority votes. These are mainly aimed at “questioning the need for a synodal culture for the Catholic Church, not changing the role of priests and the current hierarchical shape of the Church, limiting the influence of lay men and women in the Church, and more preservation and promotion of traditional forms of liturgy, especially the ‘extraordinary form.'”

Pope Francis announced a Synod on Synodality in March 2020 to “provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term.”

The process to prepare the synod started with consultations at the diocesan level in October 2021. A continental phase is scheduled to commence in March 2023, according to the Synod on Synodality’s website. The final and universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.

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  1. About moving forward on the synodal path, the evaded question is less the direction than the width:
    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

  2. This Synod of all Synods (or whatever the heck they call it) is proving to be highly informative. It is fleshing out all the deep pockets of apostasy and homosexuality in the Catholic Church. We now know to disregard just about anything coming out from the Catholic Church in Germany, and now Switzerland. Let’s get down to what we’ll surely face in the Catholic Church – the Great Schism of 2022.

  3. When we open the faith up to discussion, response is determined on the manner in which open discussion is couched. Are we focused on a hermeneutic of continuity, or is that replaced with advancement of the faith? Pope Francis set the tone, how the discussion is couched when he chose advancement to the explicit bypassing of the hermeneutic.
    That is the understanding of the Swiss bishops and their perhaps previous rationale for withholding, withheld under the assumption of permanent moral principles, of a perceived inequality of women, exclusion of LGBT persons. Taking human nature as it is in its fallen state the tendency in man is toward the lesser strenuous, difficult positions to adhere to especially in a world in which women’s rights are enshrined as enlightened policy, as well as acceptance of Homosexuality as a rapidly accepted norm argued by many as natural.
    Clericalism is understood as rigidness, contrary to advancing new norms supported by a minority of bishops who question the new norms. Direction is clear in the majority response, Baptism and exercise of the common priesthood of the faithful [to the detriment of the ordained priesthood]is the apparent ultimate end of synodality in Switzerland and putatively for the universal Church.

  4. “…reporting the Catholic Church was seen as suffering from clericalism —as well as “denying equality to women” and excluding “people with LGBTQ identity.”

    Yawn. Excuse me if I seem a little sleepy after reading these tired old accusations again. The truth is quite simple, actually.

    The fact that God has assigned different roles to men and women does not mean that women are somehow less valued. That assertion is dishonest and manipulative. Men and women are ontologically equal and functionally different. That’s the divine order. A holy God plays no favorites, and He makes no mistakes.

    This whole “LGBT people are victims of the church” narrative is patently false. The church is under no obligation whatsoever to affirm, support, encourage, or welcome people who are actively, intentionally, and consistently violating His commandments. Plain and simple.

    The choice is clear and unequivocal. You can follow God’s truth or embrace a progressive ideology and agenda. You cannot do both. Choose wisely; your eternal destiny is at stake.

  5. Um, I have a question.

    If these bishops in Switzerland and Germany and Rome are so opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church, then why are they still Catholic?

    There are plenty of other faith traditions to choose from — including many that seem to take their moral cues from television sitcoms, lurid TikTok videos, and the prostitute-mongering, substance-huffing offspring of Joe Biden.

    To me it seems rather hypocritical — and extremely presumptuous — for these dissenters to continue to serve as Catholic prelates when they are vehemently opposed to so much what the Church stands for.

    • Why do these imposters stick around? Have you not heard that they’re the self-anointed vanguard of a flipped doctrine and proletarian Church.

      Instead of Vincent of Lerin, it’s Visit of Lenin.

  6. My college years were spent during the hippie era, and my cultural reaction to it was mostly amusement for the stupidity of it all. Not that love and peace were not pleasant enough thoughts to imagine for the whole world. But seeking to bring it about through sloth and drugs and not bathing and fornication and promoting the killing of the resulting babies was going to create utopia eventually even stretched the faith of the most gullible flower child.
    How many times does the Church have to act out a cultural revolution as infantile as the hippie era and take themselves seriously as though contradicting the received faith represents an ability to outsmart the actual will of God? What kind of willful weakening of one’s mind is required to view mass movements that seek to redefine human nature as self-validating rather than collectivized, barely repressed, hatred for God?

    • Good points. It’s a puzzling thing that the hippie generation never outgrew all that well-intentioned foolishness. I would be horrified to discover that I think the same way today as I did as a young adult. But that’s just me.

  7. I am so tired of hearing from the Churches in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, etc. Let’s face it. They are old and tired and empty. They have nothing to teach us except the dangers of a scleroticism that is unrelieved by the renewal of youth and vigour.

  8. “‘Several official church positions on the role of women in church and society, on sexuality and lifestyles are perceived as pejorative and exclusionary,’ the Swiss report said… .'”

    “Two points, in particular, were emphasized, namely ‘overcoming the experience that many people are excluded from full participation in the life of the church’…”.

    Seems like they’ve identified a perception problem among the faithful. Well, proclaiming the truth is a great way to correct mis-formed perceptions. Any bets on how high on the list that option is?

  9. I am a Catholic woman ( not a young one, either) and NEVER have I felt devalued in the church. I volunteer in a church ministry and no effort was made to prevent me. If on the other hand we are talking about the whiners who want to act as men and become priests, I do NOT support making that change in the church. In addition, all of the attempts to normalize LGBTQ by the Pope and others in spite of long-standing church teaching is pretty disgusting to me. It is perfectly possible to like and treat with respect people who are gay, etc, and yet not give their situation a stamp of approval. As someone above commented, if they are not happy with being Catholic, why dont they sample another denomination where “anything goes”? Sadly, there are plenty of those. Anyone who needs the approval of others to generate confidence and a sense of self-esteem will never really be happy. Happiness comes from knowing who you are within yourself. Maybe the Swiss church will join up with the Germans to start a new break-away church.

  10. How good it is to get accurate information about the contemporary cogitations of Catholic hierarchs in Switzerland and Germany. Yet, there is a massive problem with this reportage and many of the comments about it. THERE ARE THREE COMPLETELY SEPARTATE ISSUES: 1. Clericalism; 2. Women’s Ministry; and 3. Church membership and ‘marriage’ of active Homosexuals. How is it that so many are treating these as if they were a single issue?

    For what it’s worth: 1. it seems to me that CLERICALISM breaches the instructions of our founder, King Jesus Christ, that all those in leadership must be the slave servants of all others in the Church; just as Christ came to serve and not to dominate, exploit and abuse. A mega re-education of ALL our clergy in Christ’s values is clearly a very high priority.

    2. Active HOMOSEXUALITY is not only identified in holy scripture as a serious sin (like robbery, idol worship, murder, etc.) but it is identified as a punishment on those who are already flagrantly disregarding God’s authority. It is an impossibility for genuine Christian Catholics to yoke ourselves to people who live that way. Yet, also, we are called to refrain from condemning them, rather we are to loving offer them a path of repentance & reconciliation with God, as with all other serious sinners.

    3. Exclusion of women from access to some ministries in the Church is contra-Biblical. But, after centuries of entrainment by an extremely dominating, in-group of male clergy, it would seem to need a miracle to shift our entrenched mindset. Sociologists show us that human cadres of social privilege do not yield privileges lightly. Yet, are there not very good reasons RIGHT NOW to raise this issue as one of justice for all female Catholics, as such.

    1. The manifest failure of large sections of the male Catholic clerical establishment to faithfully and exclusively represent King Jesus Christ and His Apostles. If faithful women had been part of the priesthood, it’s unlikely criminal child sexual molestation & lying cover-ups would have been so scandalously unopposed from within the priesthood.

    2. The original high status of women reported in the New Testament (contra the ambient cultures of those times). One thinks of Lydia leading a household of believers (aka local church) in Philippi. The eminent deaconess, Phoebe, carrying huge responsibilities for men, women and children in Rome (Romans 16:1). It’s impossible to imagine that these saints did not officiate, as needed, at Holy Eucharist in their own home churches. We can add, the outstanding church planting and catechetics of Prisca and her husband; valuable service of Mary of Rome, Tryphaena & Tryphosa, the mother of Rufus, Julia, Olympas, and the sister of Nereus, and many other saintly women. Would our Church ever have gotten going without them?

    3. The encouraging example of decades of faithful women priests in several reputable Protestant denominations. Their witness has generally been far more impeccable than the generality of our male Catholic priests. Surely, with this alone, God is telling us Catholics to open our eyes.

    4. The example of numerous Catholic women saints, like St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, St Mother Teras of Kolkata, and so many others, whose massive responsibilities and incredibly brave witness, amidst persecution should inspire every Catholic.

    The entrenched prejudice: that such saintly women are intrinsically disqualified from officiating at a Holy Eucharist is, at heart, surely misplaced and shameful.

    Not only that, but by tolerating denial of ministerial equality to women we deprive many (often the poorest Catholics) of access to the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, that would be available to them if all Catholic women who are qualified and called to be priests were ordained. Is that not institutionalized sin ?

    The general blindness of most Catholics to this incredibly simple and universally beneficial return to our origins is like a massive mountain (having widely negative social ramifications), and that makes change seem unlikely. Yet, our Pope, Francis has prayed:

    “Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to hear your voice! Come, Holy Spirit of holiness, renew the holy and faithful People of God!”

    So, I for one, think it possible to move the mountain of prejudice against Catholic women priests.

    So separating the bundle: Yes to elimination of clericalism; No to yoking ourselves to
    unrepentant, active homosexuals; Yes to opening all ministries to suitable women.

    Keep well everyone. Always in the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty

    • Marty. This is heresy. St. John Paul closed the door on this. It goes against millennia of Church teaching. Astonishingly, you are quoting the practice of the heretical protestant churches! Let us not hear any more of this.
      Blessings from Jimmy

  11. Hi Jimmy, thanks for responding, even if so enigmatically and forcefully!

    What are you identifying as ‘heresy’ in my humble efforts to encourage reasoned & informed conversation about vital dogmatic & ecclesial issue, currently confusing hundreds of millions of faithful Catholics? This is what I wrote:
    “Yet, our Pope, Francis has prayed: “Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to hear your voice! Come, Holy Spirit of holiness, renew the holy and faithful People of God!” So separating the bundle: Yes to elimination of clericalism; No to yoking ourselves to unrepentant, active homosexuals; Yes to opening all ministries to suitable women.

    Please be explicit in your response, dear Jimmy.

    Take care. Always in the love of The Lamb; blessings from marty

  12. Dear Jimmy,

    Another couple of observations concerning ‘heresy’.

    Unbelief in the physical resurrection of Our Lord & in His real presence in Holy Eucharist are the most serious heresies flourishing among many Catholic lay & clergy today. They are spurning: “the most important channel of grace” given us by The Holy Trinity, that is faith in, love of, and obedience to our eternal King, Jesus Christ.

    As regards traditions blocking our discussion: let’s recall Christ repeatedly instructing: “You have heard, but I tell you!”.

    To those who insisted on some long-established traditions of Israel, Christ said that such rules were temporary, only allowed: “because of your hardness of heart”.

    Foods that were traditionally abhorrent for millennia were permitted by Jesus, since what you eat doesn’t make you unclean but what comes out of your heart.

    John’s Gospel (3:8) has Jesus correcting traditionalists: “The wind blows where it pleases, you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. That is how it is with all who are born of The Holy Spirit.”

    Is it not somewhat heretical to claim that: “the traditions of men”, that advantaged the administratively ruling patriarchy, were and are immutably in accord with God’s Holy Spirit, and thus not open to synodal deliberations in a Church that has now recognized the priesthood in Christ of all its members, both male and female.?

    As regards long-established and reputable Protestant churches (like the Anglicans & the Lutherans) you seriously err, Jimmy, in calling them heretics. This is what Cardinal Ratzinger (who became Pope Benedict XVI) taught us:

    “Ultimately it is due to the fact that there is no appropriate category in Catholic thought for the phenomenon of Protestantism today (one could say the same of the relationship to the separated churches of the East). It is obvious that the old category of ‘heresy’ is no longer of any value. Heresy, for Scripture and the early Church, includes the idea of a personal decision against the unity of the Church, and heresy’s characteristic is pertinacia, the obstinacy of him who persists in his own private way. This, however, cannot be regarded as an appropriate description of the spiritual situation of the Protestant Christian. In the course of a now centuries-old history, Protestantism has made an important contribution to the realization of Christian faith, fulfilling a positive function in the development of the Christian message and, above all, often giving rise to a sincere and profound faith in the individual non-Catholic Christian, whose separation from the Catholic affirmation has nothing to do with the pertinacia characteristic of heresy.”

    Thanks for stimulating these reflections, dear Jimmy. I’m keen to read your response.

    Ever in the love of Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

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