The Catholic Church in England and Wales has acknowledged that it has work to do, to address the issue of those who feel marginalised by the Church and those who have walked away from it, because of deep rooted issues.
The Catholic Church’s Bishops Conference of England and Wales launched a new document on Tuesday, that reveals what Catholics are thinking today in relation to the Church.
The National Synthesis document is a slimmed down version of reports from several parishes representing what most church members wanted to say about their experiences as a Catholic in the UK.
The report addressed the issue of people, who feel like they are marginalised in the Church. The Church identified them as women, LGBTQ+ people, young people, those who are divorced and remarried, the Traveller community, those with additional needs, people of colour and traditionalists.
The report also shared criticisms of the way the Church has handled abuse.
It states: “The distance felt by ordinary faithful from the organs of governance of the Church, is expressed most vigorously in criticism of the sex abuse crisis, which the reports name and describe as a source of shame and humiliation that continues to anger and disappoint people. The crisis is seen as a dramatic indictment of clericalism, of an institution seen as self-serving rather than serving, concerned with itself and its own reputation.”
In a separate document, Bishops’ Reflection on the Synodal National Synthesis, the bishops of the Church acknowledged the need for “healing and reconciliation” due to the way it’s handled abuse.
“Ongoing discernment will need to reflect further on the hurt and pain, voiced as part of this first stage of our synodal journey. "Some have expressed their concerns about how power is exercised in the Church. "Others have spoken of the devastating impact of clerical sexual abuse on survivors and within the wider Church,” they said.
“The voices of those who feel marginalised or unwelcome because of their marital situation, sexual orientation or gender identity have been raised and heard sincerely. "Equally, others who feel excluded from the life of the Church, or identify as being on the peripheries, have not been forgotten in our synodal process of encounter.
“In a different sense, the synod responses showed appreciation for our continued dialogue with other Christians and people of different religious traditions, together with a desire for the Church to be more present in, and to, our society and culture.
“Reflecting on all these synodal conversations has heightened the sense of our shared need to value everyone who enriches our Church by their presence. "Similarly, we understand the need to work for healing and reconciliation, modelled on Christ himself who loves without limit.”
The National Synthesis document, as well as Bishops’ reflection document will be sent to the Synod Office in Rome as the formal submission to the Synod from England and Wales.
Along with reports from all the other conferences in the world, the Synod office will be reviewed to create the first Instrumentum Laboris, which the Synod Office is calling the “Document for the Continental Stage.”