Back in the day, especially the late 60's well into the 80's, becoming a conciliar Church, meant that dioceses and parishes needed to include the laity in the decision making processes of their respective institutions.
Americans, because we are desirous of following the rules, more so than Italy and many European and South American countries, went gun-ho with establishing Diocesan and Parish pastoral councils, committees galore, finance councils and hiring lay people as well as religious for pastoral positions.
Every parish in my diocese of Savannah is required to have a Finance Council and a pastoral council with its many committees. These are completely lay run although the pastor must confirm decisions.
There's a lot of talk and chatter at these meetings too and too numerous to count!!!!
The Diocese of Savannah under the late Bishop Raymond Lessard also had a Diocesan Pastoral Council. His successor suppressed it and no other successor has revived it. I thought then and still do think that that was and is a mistake!
Many dioceses since the 70's have held diocesan convocations to assist the bishop in charting a vision for going forward. These were listening and talking sessions.
Most Catholic parishes in the USA as well as diocesan chanceries (pastoral centers) have a majority of women in leadership positions. Most Catholic parishes, including those I was associated with, had mostly women in the administrative and pastoral areas of the parish, especially ministry positions, be these paid or volunteer, from our schools, CCD programs, pastoral outreach, all predominantly women but men are not excluded.
However, what we experience in the USA is not experienced worldwide. I think, for the most part, Pope Francis is clueless about the fidelity of Catholics in the USA, the amount of laity we have in leadership positions, and the overall religiosity of American citizens which puts Europe and South America to shame.
I think too, in terms of pastoral care of our people, most USA parishes are way ahead of other countries.
Pope Francis wants to develop the pastoral theology of the Church in terms of inclusivity. In the USA the Catholic Church has worked hard at desegregation and integrating our parishes. Most are a melting pot of nations and races.
In terms of those who are not heterosexual but are active in their sexual orientation, priests and parishes must have charity (love) as their foundation towards sinners. What I wish the synod would discuss, and maybe there was a discussion, is how to love the sinner and hate the sin. I fear Pope Francis when it comes to human sexuality is an enabler of sin rather than a pope that calls all sinners, no matter the sin, to repentance and reconciliation with the Most Holy Trinity through the Church.
I have never known any parish to exclude people who do not identify with the heterosexual orientation and lifestyle. It just doesn't happen!!!! For paid personnel or volunteers in specific ministries, we do require that these Catholics be in good standing with the Church and all her teachings. If someone is living a public lifestyle contrary to the Church's moral teachings, that person might excluded or fired from a paid or volunteer ministry. Is the pope asking us not to do that?????
On the pastoral level, especially preaching, I do think that a small minority priests and catechists can become insensitive to people struggling with their sexuality often singling them out for ridicule or condemnation but not others who are sinful in other ways. I know that parents love their errant children, no matter what sins they commit sexual or otherwise. We often hurt by our words at Mass or in the classroom, parents and family members who love their gay children and find meanness, not love, in what is said by the "official" Church.
Synodality is just another word for conciliar. Pope Francis has brought it to the Vatican. Will it be successful? Yes, but only if there is not a breach with the defined Deposit of Faith and Morals and the magisteriums of previous popes, especially John Paul II and Benedict.
Pastoral theology? As I have written before, it is an art not a science. Subsidiarity is best in pastoral theology and not micro management from Rome or the pope.