Report from Spirit Unbounded Conference

The Synod on Synodality – the big event that’s been happening for the last few years in Roman Catholic Church – is finally coming to an end. The bishops (with a small addition of a few lay people, including, for the first time, women) gathered in Rome to bring together ideas and findings from their respective countries, continents and context, to discuss, and to vote. 

At the same time a lot of lay people gathered to push their causes forward – among them queer, lgbt+, rainbow Catholics. A number of members of Roman Catholic Working Group of European Forum took part in Spirit Unbounded conference – among them a polish activist Uschi, who shares her experiences: 

Quite unexpectedly I went to Rome – encouraged by a person from European Forum’s RCC (Roman Catholic Church) working group and I’m really glad I went! Friday and Saturday we spent at Spirit Unbounded conference organised by We Are Church and GNRC (Global Network of Rainbow Catholics).

Many interesting presentations and debates, all with a common theme of ensuring equality in the Roman Catholic Church for everyone – women, LGBT+ individuals, divorced people, migrants… I was particularly intrigued by the debate involving rainbow Catholics (Miro, Marianne Duddy-Burke, Marc Guevara, Miki Harrlein, and Mara Klein), moderated by Jaimie Manson. Jaimie also had a separate presentation where she eloquently spoke about how patriarchy is the common denominator in all exclusions in the Church. Sister Joan Chittister’s excellent presentation on discipleship and courage left me with the thought-provoking phrase, ‘If the people of God lead, eventually the leaders will follow.’ And, of course, Mary McAleese was absolutely extraordinary, especially since she was prominently mentioned during the launch of Marta Abramowicz’s latest book [about de-catholicisation of Ireland].

During one of the presentations, a captivating topic emerged regarding transgender women who were ordained as priests in their “previous life,” and the question of the validity of their ordinations. It’s unsurprising that the Catholic Church deems them invalid or non-existent, but in each of the few documented cases, there are varying arguments. Those advocating for the ordination of women as deacons and priests find significant hope in this matter.

Sunday was all about LGBTQ+ discussions, with European Forum, GNRC, reps from different LGBTQ+ organizations in Italy, and Dignity USA in the mix. We chatted about the Synod, what it means for LGBTQ+ folks, and the potential hurdles. We decided that GNRC needs to push hard for the Catholic Church to outright condemn the criminalization of LGBTQ+ people. And, naturally, blessings are a hot topic in the wider Western context.

There was also a presentation of a survey conducted by GNRC among LGBTQ+ individuals who identify as believers.

And one more thing: a lot of people showed interest in our Polish book “The Christ is also ours. Talks with LGBT+ Christians.”. (pol. “To jest także nasz Chrystus – rozmowy z chrześcijanami LGBT+”) After all, Polish-speaking minorities exist all around the world.”