Global Network of Rainbow Catholics Input

To the 2024 Synod Assembly


The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) was launched in 2015. It brings together groups and their members who work for pastoral care, justice, inclusion, dignity, and equality for LGBTIQ+ Catholics and their families in the Roman Catholic church and wider society. We represent over four dozen organizations and thousands of individuals and families on six continents. 

The GNRC and many of our member groups have been actively involved in Synod work since 2021, holding listening sessions, providing opportunities for written submissions, surveying our members, and submitting reports that reflect the hopes and concerns of our members.  Members and leaders were present in Rome during the first Synod assembly, and many have participated in or followed local, national, and continental gatherings.

This paper represents the responses of LGBTIQ+ Catholics and allies to questions drawn from the Synod’s Towards 2024, released in December 2023. The questions posed to our members were:

  1. How do you react to the work of the Synod so far?
  2. In what ways are LGBTIQ+ and Ally Catholics already taking co-responsibility for the life of the Church?
  3. What steps should church leaders take to better enable LGBTIQ+ and Ally Catholics to take even greater co-responsibility for the life of the Church?
  4. In what ways do the Church’s structures, leadership, and life help or hinder its mission to proclaim the Gospel and to live as a community of love and mercy in Christ?

As part of formulating our submission the GNRC held four listening sessions in February and March 2024, scheduled at times that would enable people from around the world to access at least one session, and offered in English and Spanish. In addition, GNRC offered the opportunity for people to respond to the same questions online, in any language they wished. 


Response of GNRC Members

GNRC members voiced a range of reactions to the Synod with varying degrees of support for and visibility of Synod work in home parishes and dioceses. Some people have had multiple chances to attend meetings and to speak, others report their dioceses did not offer listening sessions, or it was clear that contributions were acceptable only if they upheld current teachings or practices while a handful of individuals have been invited to participate in official Synodal diocesan or national meetings as representatives of the LGBTIQ+ community. They felt honored to take on this role, felt the responsibility of doing so, and reported anxiety about how they would be received. Some reported being subjected to hostile comments or refused engagement from others in the meeting. Many felt hopeful at the outset of the process, but enthusiasm has diminished for many, due to the lack of feedback from participants or church officials, a perceived lack of action on critical issues, a sense that the process is marred by clericalism and reports of dissension on LGBTIQ+ and other equality issues. Others maintain hope that some positive changes will result from the process. The lack of openly LGBTIQ+ representation was noted repeatedly and felt to indicate that significant progress in building a more inclusive church would not be likely.

Participants said that there continues to be tremendous misunderstanding and ignorance among church officials about members of the LGBTIQ+ community. There is hope that social science and liberationist theologies, as well as consultation with LGBTIQ+ people, will help church leaders understand the negative impact of and misinterpretations of biblical references of homosexuality in current teachings and associated exclusionary practices.

Many are discouraged by increasingly outdated approach by unsympathetic non-pastoral clergy, who often align with nationalistic political movements that restrict human rights and deny the dignity of LGBTIQ+ people. They called for priests to have well informed, educated and spiritual depth, show compassion, and be less judgmental. Some expressed concern that the fears that many LGBTIQ+ people and family members have about being visible means that their concerns are not brought forward in any setting. “LGBTIQ+ people and families are excluded from diocesan decisions,” said one U.S. participant. Others said that the use of terms like “same-sex attracted” is alienating and hurtful. Participants also said they felt that the church’s failure to be nurturing was a key reason young people are not remaining active.

Many were enthusiastic about the concept of “co-responsibility,” noting that many LGBTIQ+ Catholics have taken on significant leadership roles within their faith communities. Participants serve on parish councils, are lectors and Ministers of the Eucharist, teach religious education, make pastoral visits to the sick or isolated, and much more. Many spoke of undertaking theological education to better understand church teaching. Participants also noted that the need to provide pastoral care for one another is often a reality among LGBTIQ+ Catholics, as institutional structures fail to do this.   However, there was also some skepticism about calls for co-responsibility, voiced by one participant from Asia as, “Do church leaders want co-responsibility or consultation? The first implies collaboration, which would be great. If it’s just consultation, they are free to accept or reject our ideas, and even us.” Another lifted up efforts of the German church, where lay people work alongside bishops and priests, as a model, while noting that there has been extensive criticism of this model from many parts of the world.

Participants also noted that LGBTIQ+ people see our struggles as linked with many other justice issues within the church, including those of women, migrants and refugees, those impacted by clerical sexual abuse, and others who cannot sit at the tables of power. The concerns of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers came up repeatedly. With increasing political and social stigmatization of LGBTIQ+ people, both youth and adults, the number of people seeking assistance from organizations like GNRC is increasing rapidly. Our church is called to better meet these demands. It is good that the Synod process made a point of inviting those at the margins to have input, but many questioned to what extent those voices are being heard, and their concerns seriously considered. Some are frustrated that it seems the Synod itself will not address these issues in-depth but will defer recommendations for any changes in church teaching and practice to working groups. With the composition, specific goals and operational protocols for these groups still unknown, it is difficult to understand what outcomes might be expected from their work.

Finally, many participants expressed questions or confusion about the release of two key documents that occurred after the Synod Assembly of 2023, i.e. Fiducia Supplicans  and Dignitas Infinita. Most were pleased by the release of Fiducia Supplicans and its acknowledgment that same-sex couples could be blessed by priests. The Vatican’s defense of this position in the wake of harsh criticism from some in the church was appreciated. Some experienced frustration with the restrictions on such blessings and the continued negative comparisons of same-sex couples to heterosexually married couples. While Dignitas Infinita was released after the conclusion of GNRC’s listening sessions, some members did express strong disappointment in personal communications with GNRC Board members with Paragraph 60, i.e.; the characterization of transgender people’s journeys as based in ‘gender ideology,’ the condemnation of gender-affirming medical treatments, and the omission of transgender people from the call for non-discrimination and decriminalization. The lack of pastoral approach to this area was very disappointing and not in line with the purposes of this document, being everyone’s infinite dignity before God. In general, our members felt confused that two documents on such important pastoral issues would be developed in clearly non-Synodal, non-consultative ways, especially since the Church is engaged in working to adopt new ways of being.


Participants offered several recommendations to make our church more Synodal, responsive, and able to carry out the Gospel mission. These include:

  • Harmful teachings about LGBTIQ+ people must be changed. A council of theologians, bishops, LGBTIQ+ people and family members should be charged with considering Scripture, tradition, medical and social science, and the experience of community members in proposing new doctrine.  All dioceses and parishes should be encouraged to actively include    women and LGBTIQ+ people, as well as other marginalized people from the area in their councils
  • Include openly LGBTIQ+ representatives in all future Synod meetings
  • Ensure that the documents of the Second Vatican Council are taught in all seminaries

We look forward with hope that the views and experiences of the global LGBTIQ+ Catholic community are accorded a voice and dignity by the Church that promotes the virtues of a
Synodality. The GNRC and its members believe that by embracing a synodal path of inclusion for this community will no doubt result in a prosperous Church for all of God’s children.

We remain eager to support this process in any way and accordingly can be contacted at

Yours faithfully,

The Board of Directors of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics

Marianne Duddy-Burke (U.S.A.) and Christopher Vella (Malta), Co-Chairs

Paolo Alacqua (Australia), Secretary

Victoria Rodriguez (Spain), Treasurer

Ruby Almeida (UK)

Susanne-Andrea Birke, Switzerland

Mario Antonio Siliceo Ortiz, Mexico

Submitted by the Board of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, May 2024


Member from Senegal

It is always good to have a constructive discussion about the life of the faithful within a church that accommodates the changes in our society. Surely it needs lots of openness and prayers to accommodate certain approaches that might be challenging to the society. But there was good representation from the clerical and laity that helped in shaping the Synod.


Member from Canada

It is essential that those most impacted by church teachings, especially on sexuality and gender, must be consulted. The church must also consult with science. The input of Scripture and tradition is incomplete.


Member from the Philippines

Participating in Synod listening sessions is important to me. I feel I can contribute as an equal and be part of a learning church. It is my right and duty as a baptized person.

Curious about the current sentiments within the global LGBTIQ+ Catholic community? This article delves into a revealing survey conducted by the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, capturing the thoughts and hopes of LGBTIQ+ Catholics and their allies ahead of the Synod of Bishops. Despite their deep faith, many feel that the Church has failed to respect their dignity and address their pastoral needs adequately. The survey highlights a community divided in its optimism for meaningful change from the upcoming Synod, with some clinging to hope while others remain wary of the Church’s commitment to inclusivity. Discover detailed insights on what LGBTIQ+ Catholics believe would foster genuine inclusion and how they perceive their role within the Church. If this piques your interest, the full survey results are available for download in the GNRC Survey results from October 2023.

Global Survey report: LGBTIQ Catholics Demand Inclusion and Change at Synod