The recent synod of the church is receiving mixed reviews. Barbie Latza Nadeau, writing in The Daily Beast, says the synod is a victory for Pope Francis, and that all is going to come out well after a year’s discussions and in the conclusion of the synod. Or it may be that young people are going to settle all of this. Carol Kuruvilla, in the Huffington Post, says that, “Close to 85% of self-identified Catholics between the ages of 18 and 29 believe gays and lesbians should be accepted by society, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.” The same survey says that the same age group, 18-29, is in favor of gay marriage by 75%. These numbers may make the painful struggles in the synod irrelevant.
Another factor that may contribute to its irrelevancy is that many people have simply turned away. Paul Raushenbush, writing in the Huffington Post, observes the internecine squabbles of the church and responds, as a gay man, “The idea that some random people are debating my life and my love now seems strange and insulting.” He is, as he says, “over it.” There are many gay men and women who are simply over the struggles of the church. I think my own response to reading about the synod is, “Let them have whatever painful churning discussions they wish. None of it has anything to do with me or with my husband.” I don’t think members of those organizations understand how many hundreds of thousands of gay men and women were driven away by the spectacle of Christians arguing in public over the question of whether gay men and women deserve the love of the church. Those organizations who fought over this question during the last twenty or thirty years, are smaller and less vibrant because of their own careless indifference to their own principles.
We’re gone now. Even if Pope Francis’s Synod on the Family by chance discovers the Christian way to respond to gay families, it will find that it is promulgating its new discoveries to pews emptied of gay people. For myself, I can’t imagine ever going back.