For the first time, women will sit in the Synod of Bishops with the right to vote, the Pope has decided

Women will sit for the first time in the Synod of Bishops with the right to vote, the Pope decided

Illustrative photo – Pope Francis delivered the Urbi et orbi message, April 9, 2023, Vatican City.

Vatican/Prague – For the first time, Pope Francis will allow women to sit in the synod of bishops with the right to vote. It was written by the AP agency with reference to the new rules published by the Vatican. Until now, women have participated in meetings as experts without the possibility to vote, and they have been striving for this right for a long time. The new rules will apply for the first time to the negotiations that will take place in October.

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The new regulations state that five voting nuns will be appointed to the synod. The Pope also appoints 70 members outside the episcopal state from nominations sent by church organizations. Half of the nominees must be women. The Vatican is also encouraging greater representation of young people.

“It is a step to increase the share of women in decision-making processes in important bodies of the Catholic Church, which is the Synod of Bishops. I think it was one from topics that were also discussed at the European Synod in Prague,” church historian Jaroslav Šebek told ČTK today.

A meeting of representatives of the Catholic Church from all over Europe took place in Prague in February. They took part in the Continental Assembly of the Synod on Synodality 2021 to 2024, which was announced in 2021 by Pope Francis and which is supposed to bring initiatives for further organization of the Catholic Church or changes in it. It was first held at the level of local churches and, after the continental meeting, will culminate in the October meeting of bishops in the Vatican.

Synod is a designation for various gatherings of representatives of Christian churches, it originally means a joint journey. The synodal journey or process announced by Francis should include meeting, listening and discerning about the common future of believers.

Šebek reminded today that the share of women within some Vatican institutions is being strengthened. “They are already represented within the congregation for bishops, which is also a novelty. It is a topic that Pope Francis is bringing into church processes, it is the beginning of a long journey,” said Šebek.

Until now, only men were regular members of the synod. However, women acted as experts and advisers at the meetings. The opportunity to vote has been sought for a long time, the AP agency wrote.

Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, who presented the changes to journalists today, said that this is not a revolution. “The 70 new members represent 21 percent of the assembly, which in general remains a meeting of bishops,” the cardinal said. According to Cardinal Mario Grech, the change can enrich the debate within the church.

The Synod of Bishops, which gathers other high church officials in addition to the heads of dioceses, discusses the most pressing topics in the Catholic Church. At the end of the meeting, he usually approves a document with his recommendations and positions. The body was created after the Second Vatican Council and was supposed to open up debate and decision-making in the Catholic Church more. In addition to the Vatican meeting, which is attended by representatives from all over the world, individual national churches also organize their synods.

In the Catholic Church, the Pope has all the power, so he does not have to take into account the opinions expressed by the synod.