Pope Francis approves reforms granting women the right to vote at bishops’ meetings News
© WikiMedia (Zebra48bo)
Pope Francis approves reforms granting women the right to vote at bishops’ meetings

Pope Francis Wednesday approved historic reforms granting women the right to vote in the Synod of Bishops, an assembly of bishops from around the world which gathers regularly to discuss Church matters and advise the Pope. The move reflects continued pressures the Pope has faced to grant women greater representation within the Roman Catholic Church, and to expand inclusivity within the Holy See.

The changes call for the appointment of 70 “non-bishop members” to hold voting status at the Synod, which next meets at the October 2023 General Assembly. Of those 70 members, half will be women, and the presence of young people will also be emphasized, an edict which the Bishops presenting the reforms explained existed “because that is the way our world is.” The 70 members will be appointed by the Pope from a list of 140 individuals, prepared by the 7 International Reunions of Bishops’ Conferences and the Assembly of Patriarchs of Eastern Catholic Churches.

Church officials stressed that the reforms were “not a revolution but an important change,” and noted that bishops remain the majority presence in the Synod. With that being said, the changes undoubtedly reflect a shift in the attitudes of the Church, which has received sustained calls to form a more inclusive Synod.

“This is a significant crack in the stained glass ceiling,” wrote Catholic Women’s Ordination, a UK-based feminist group seeking gender equity in the Roman Catholic Church. They continued:

“In the near future, we hope that the synod continues to develop into a fully representative body of the people of God. This is an important step on the path toward gender parity, and we will continue our persistent efforts to work for lasting structural changes in the church.”