Greater “leadership, discernment, and decision-making roles for women” were included as a desire in nearly all the synodal consultations.
“Another common hope for becoming a more welcoming Church revolved around removing barriers to accessibility and embracing those with special needs and their families, particularly as it relates to an individual’s sacramental life,” the report highlighted. “One of the regions reported a lack of inclusion because there are so few priests and other ministers who are fluent in American Sign Language. Families expressed great joy when steps of inclusion were taken, while many acknowledged the work still left to be done.”
Greater efforts should be made “to welcome diverse cultural and ethnic communities” and to overcome racism, according to the synthesis.
Concern over young people’s failure to practice the faith was widespread, and “young people themselves voiced a feeling of exclusion and desired to participate more fully as members of the parish community. The feeling of exclusion also manifested itself in some youth seeking a sense of belonging in the Church’s ancient tradition of faith, prayer, and devotion.”
The need for continuing spiritual, pastoral, and catechetical formation was recognized, along with the importance of strengthened communication: “Nearly all of the synodal consultations saw clear, concise, and consistent communication as key to the strong desire for appropriate transparency … As the Church seeks to continue down the synodal path, a commitment to clear, transparent, and consistent communication will be crucial.”
Turning to discernment, the synthetic document said: “The rediscovery of listening as a basic posture of a Church called to ongoing conversion is one of the most valuable gifts of the synodal experience in the United States.”
According to the report, about 700,000 people participated in the diocesan phase of the synod in the U.S., out of 66.8 million Catholics in the country.
The reports of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the U.S. were not included in the National Synthesis; these were shared directly with the Holy See and will be incorporated into the continental stage of the synod.
The national synthesis concludes the diocesan phase of the Synod of Synodality. The continental stage, in turn, will be a preparation for a Synod of Bishops to be held at the Vatican in 2023.
Carl Bunderson is managing editor of Catholic News Agency. He holds a BA in economics from the University of Colorado Boulder and a BPhil from the Pontifical Lateran University.