~ by Gerard O’Connell for AMERICA Magazine and Christopher White for National Catholic Reporter
For the first time in the history of the synod, Pope Francis has given women the right to vote and has also made a radical change to the members of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality.
At the synod, which opens in October, between 21 and 25 percent of the members with a right to vote will not be bishops. These members will include consecrated women and men as well as lay women and men. All those who are members of the synod will have the right to vote.
the change in synod membership, Cardinal Hollerich, the relator general of the synod, said that instead of the 10 clerics belonging to Institutes of Consecrated Life and elected by the respective organizations representing the superiors general could participate in the synod, this is no longer the case. Instead of 10 clerics, these groups will now be represented by “five women religious and five men religious” and “as members of the synod, they will have the right to vote.”
Cardinal Hollerich noted that “an additional 70 non-bishop members have been added who represent various groups of the faithful, of the people of God [priests, consecrated women, deacons, lay faithful] and who come from the local churches.”
These will be chosen by Pope Francis from a list of 140 names presented to him by the seven international reunions of bishops’ conferences and the assembly of the patriarchs of Easter Catholic Churches. The cardinal said that Francis requested that “50 percent of them be women, and that the presence of young people also be emphasized [in choosing these members].” All 70 will have a right to vote.
During the 2019 synod for the nine-nation Amazon regions, there were 185 voting members, most of whom were bishops or priests. While the women’s International Union of Superiors General were allowed to elect 10 observers who could participate in the synod discussions, they were not full members and not granted a right to vote.
For years, lay Catholics have lobbied for such a reform. In 2018, a petition circulated by church reform groups gained nearly 10,000 signatures requesting that women religious be granted the right to vote at the synod.
In an interview last month with Argentine newspaper La Nacion, Francis had indicated that he intended to grant a right [to vote] to all synod participants. “Everyone who participates in the synod will vote.”
While Pope Paul VI established the synod at the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, “synodality” – a Greek term that literally means “walking together” – has emerged as a key leitmotif of Francis’ pontificate.
In October 2022, the theme “Enlarge the space of your tent” was chosen as the title of the synod’s working document. That document, known in Latin as an instrumentum laboris, is currently being drafted.
With the addition of new members, Cardinal Grech, the secretary-general of the Synod, told reporters, the “space in the tent has expandedTo read the entire articles, please click here
Synodality is Working:
Women Getting a Vote at Vatican is Proof
~ by Sebastian Gomes for AMERICA Magazine
In his last interview before he died in 2012, Cardinal Carlo Martini of Milan observed that “the church is 200 years of out of date.” Last week, the Vatican’s synod office announced that non-bishop participants at a synod, including lay women and men, will have voting rights for the first time. In this case, the church was only 10 years. late.
The reason for granting votes to non-bishops is simple: The synods are consultative, not deliberative (i.e., legislative), bodies. In a synodal church, as Pope Francis envisions, why couldn’t lay people and women religious also vote in such an assembly to advise the pope?
Since Francis began reforming the Synod of Bishops a decade ago. There has never been a convincing answer to that question – until last week’s decision. It is an exciting and positive step in the necessary empowerment of lay people and women religious in the leadership mission of the church. But more than that, it is an early sign that the synodal culture Francis envisions for the church is bearing fruit.
To read the entire account, please click here