KOCHI: In a departure from past practices and ushering in a positive change in mindset, the Catholic Church has sought suggestions and opinions from across all sections of society as part of its reformation. In the lead-up to the Synod, scheduled to be held in Rome next year, the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese is showing the way, actively engaging with people -- including transgender persons -- from across the social spectrum and delving into issues and difficulties faced by them.
In addition to the transgender laity, synodal discussions are also being held with women, children, youth and migrant workers. As the Church focuses on reshaping its future, the growing thrust on inclusivity has drawn applause from across its ranks.
“The Church is firm in its acceptance of all human beings. All of us are children of God. It is up to us to create a space that is comfortable for our transgender brethren, many of whom are forced to leave their homes due to a lack of acceptance in the community. Lack of support from family, friends and society is very traumatising for them. We have to embrace them and this is a big step we are taking, by listening and addressing their difficulties. Awareness is the key. Many including the families are unaware of the mental and the physical issues the transgenders face,” said Fr Joseph Koluthuvallil, director of Sahrudaya, the charitable arm of the Archdiocese.
“For a Christian, not being able to attend Holy Mass on Sundays or other services in the church with family, is agonising,” said a transgender person — an IT professional — who took part in the Synodal discussions last week. “After coming out to society, many transgenders have thought of ending their lives at least once. There should be an intervention from the Church to let us follow our faith, without feeling alienated. We should be able to walk with confidence.”
The wave of reformation in the Church began with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. This is the first time the Church is seeking opinions from the common people before its Synod. “Talks were held with children too, where we understood that there is a lot of misunderstanding due to the generation gap. Discussions were also held with widows, migrant workers, farmers, teachers, advocates, doctors and members of other religions. Based on the discussions, a systematic and comprehensive report will be prepared and sent to the Vatican by August,” said Fr Martin Kallungal, coordinator of the synodal activities in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.