The working draft of the document given to bishops at the beginning of the synod, for example, specifically used the acronym L.G.B.T. — for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — while the final draft did not. Some Catholics had welcomed its use as a sign that the church was listening to them by speaking their language.
While the final draft renewed the church’s “commitment against every discrimination and sexually based violence,” that section got the most negative votes: 65 “no” votes, and 178 in favor.
In receiving the document from the synod participants on Saturday — 249 clerics with voting rights as well as about 90 more experts and auditors — Pope Francis described the synod as “a protected space” where the Holy Spirit could operate.
This is the third synod convened by Francis, now in the fifth year of his papacy; one in the Amazon region is scheduled for next year.
Compared with the previous two synods on the family, when the issue of giving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics provoked open dissent against Francis, the participants spoke of an open, enthusiastic and relaxed atmosphere. Many credited the presence of 34 auditors between the ages of 18 and 29.
In accordance with Francis’ vision of a bottom-up church, the document calls for young people to take on leadership roles within their Catholic communities and dioceses, working alongside, and not under, priests and bishops to build stronger church networks.
One concrete suggestion in the document was the establishment of an international advisory board of young people.
In a letter written to the pope, and read to him Friday evening during an impromptu variety show, the 34 youths who participated in the synod told Francis they shared his vision for “an outgoing church, open to all, especially the weakest, a field hospital church.”