Church should deal with wider issue of inclusion, says Filipina synod delegate

November 24, 2023 - 11:45 AM
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Estela Padilla at Synod Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Oct. 23, 2023. (Roy Lagarde)

The lay Filipina delegate to the recent meeting of bishops at the Vatican said the Church should confront the bigger issue of inclusion, especially of the poor and marginalized.

Estela Padilla, a theologian, said the appeal of the LGBTQ community for greater acceptance and the need to place women in leadership roles in the Church were all “legitimate concerns.”

“The wider issue of inclusion should be opened up. We are excluding a lot of sectors based on the national report, parang pang mayaman lang ‘yung Simbahan, parang du’n lang sa mababait,” she told CBCP News in an interview following the synod.

Padilla noted that the term LGBTQ was dropped from the final text of the synthesis report of the 2023 Synod of Bishops.

“So, leaving out a name is leaving out a face. Pero the deeper issue is there, it is reflected there,” she said.

Padilla made history by being one of 54 women given voting rights for the first time in the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The pastoral worker and advocate of Basic Ecclesial Communities said the Vatican summit was able to build consensus around “synodality” or making the Church more welcoming and discerning, and a greater role for laypeople, especially women.

The synod, convoked in 2021 by Pope Francis, had conducted consultations at various levels–parish, vicariate, diocesan, national, and continental–and was supposed to culminate with the October 2023 assembly. But he called for a second session in October 2024 to allow for more “discernment.”

The synod scheduled for next year is expected to produce a final document, the recommendations of which could be adopted by the pope in a post-synodal apostolic exhortation.