VATICAN CITY—Roman Catholic bishops should discuss how the Church can be more welcoming to LGBTQ+ people and divorcees, a Vatican document released on Tuesday said.
They should also reflect on how to give women more decision-making power and allow them to be ordained deacons, it said.
The 50-page working document for a global synod of the bishops also proposes discussion on allowing married men to become priests in remote areas - a possibility that Pope Francis put on hold following talks in a similar meeting in 2019.
It even appears to suggest that the Church should be understanding towards those in polygamous relationships.
The synod has been in preparation for two years, during which Catholics around the world were asked about their vision for the Church. A first session will be held this October and a second in October 2024.
The document, known by its Latin title Instrumentum Laboris, includes suggestions for reflections and discussions for the delegates stemming from the consultations.
After the synod, the pope writes what is known as an Apostolic Exhortation, an official document setting out his views on which, if any, of its recommendations should be taken up. This is likely to come some months after the second session.
One "question for discernment" in the document reads:
"How can we create spaces where those who feel hurt by the Church and unwelcomed by the community feel recognised, received, free to ask questions and not judged?
"... what concrete steps are needed to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church because of their status or sexuality (for example, remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people, etc.)?"
The Church teaches that same-sex attraction is not a sin but homosexual acts are. It forbids polygamy but the practice is quietly tolerated in some parts of Africa for converts who already have more than one wife.
"We have no agenda. There was no conspiratorial meeting among cardinals about how we can add progressive points to the Church," Luxembourg Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, told a news conference in response to a question about whether the document was imbalanced.
"This was a listening experience," he said. Other speakers said it should not be taken for granted that any Church teachings on sexual morality would change because of the consultation.
GREATER ROLE FOR WOMEN
One section of the document was dedicated to women, a topic expected to be of major attention at the month-long gathering in October following Francis' decision in April to allow women delegates to vote at the assembly for the first time.
"What concrete steps can the Church take to renew and reform its procedures, institutional arrangements and structures to enable greater recognition and participation of women, including in governance, decision-making processes ...?" it said.
Last year Francis he introduced a landmark reform that will allow any baptised lay Catholic, including women, to head most Vatican departments under a new constitution for the Holy See's central administration.
He also named three women to a previously all-male committee that advises him in selecting the world's bishops.
The document said most of the local responses called for the question of women becoming deacons to be considered.
Deacons, like priests, are ordained ministers, and must be men in today's Church. They may not celebrate Mass, but they may preach, baptise and conduct wedding and funeral services and run a parish with the permission of a bishop.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan)