~Rhina Guidos – Global Sisters Report
VATICAN CITY – On the third day of the Synod of Bishops, Mercy Sr. Angela Perez, of Guam, noted that since women haven’t been allowed into such synods as full members before, she had no reference point, nothing to compare it to, yet as normal as the gathering seems, she also understands something is different and historic.
I’m experiencing and witnessing the dismantling of the hierarchical,” she told Global Sisters Report, describing the scene inside the synod hall — where cardinals, bishops, young and older lay Catholics, and women religious like herself are sitting together at roundtables, without hierarchical distinctions.
Pope Francis, like the other some 460 participants in the synod, is also sitting at a roundtable — the head of the Catholic Church being treated, more or less, just like everyone else in the room.
“It reminds me of when we have our chapter, the Sisters of Mercy, that that’s how we gather — and to gather there like that and the Pope in the circle at one of those tables with the other participants, it’s just very positive to see that,” she told GSR.
Likewise, Sr. Iris Altagracia González, of the Dominican Republic and a member of the Congregación de las Hijas de Jesús (Daughters of Jesus), said she quickly realized that for all the seemingly normal procedures, she noticed, too, something is different. She told the Global Sisters Report on October 6th, I realized the enormity, that I’m attending something really historic, really significant for the Church. I think this is not a synod like the others.”
It’s puzzling for her to hear people outside the synod express worries about its discussions, since she believes that what’s largely taking place is a conversation — a listening to oneself, others, and God, she said.
The atmosphere inside the synod hall has been one of great welcome, both women said. But it’s also one that’s making way for a different manner of leading the church and that includes listening to a wider circle of voices and letting the Holy Spirit guide conversations.
“What I’m witnessing is a different leadership style, like servant leadership style, where we’re all gathered at the table and participating, contributing. The voices at my table are the voice of a young person, a laywoman, and in my case, an older woman, a religious, and then the others are bishops, all together at the table sharing,” Perez said.
And at the center of it all, the Holy Spirit is the one in charge, not a person, she said.
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As the Synod on Synodality is taking place in Rome, Global Sisters Report, in conjunction with National Catholic Reporter, is offering these resources as an easy one-stop place to find information about this historic event.
Global Sisters Report/National Catholic Reporter coverage: Synod on Synodality
NCR’s weekly synod podcast: The Vatican Briefing
List of sister participants in the synod: Sisters involved in synod on synodality
Official synod on synodality resources: Synod schedule, List of synod participants
Other resources: Vatican News, Vatican Media Live
FutureChurch resources: Synod Watch, Synod on Synodality 2021-2024