At a meeting of bishops around the world in October, Pope Francis will let women vote for the first time. This is an important step that could lead to more people being involved in making decisions in the Roman Catholic Church.
In the past, women were able to attend synods, a group that gave advice to the pope, but they couldn’t vote.
The new rules, which were announced on Wednesday, make it possible for five religious women to vote.
A Vatican document says that the pope has also chosen to add “70 non-bishop members who represent different groups of the faithful of the people of God.”
The tweet below verifies the news:
Pope Francis allows women to vote at an upcoming meeting of bishops for the first time, aiming to boost women in decision-making roles. https://t.co/seIMC0Te2E
— FOX 8 New Orleans (@FOX8NOLA) April 26, 2023
The pope will choose the 70 priests, religious sisters, deacons, and lay Catholics from a list of 140 people who have been suggested by national bishops’ conferences. Young people were urged to take part in the conferences. The Vatican wants 50 of the 70 people to be women.
Most synods have about 300 people attend, so most of the people who can vote will still be bishops. Still, this is a big change for an organization that has been run by men for hundreds of years.
The new rules come after Francis took two big steps last year to give women more power in the Vatican.
In one, he made a major change that will let any baptized lay Catholic, including women, run most Vatican offices. This is thanks to a new constitution for the central government of the Holy See.
In another move from the past year, he added three women to a group of men who help him choose bishops around the world.
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RIGHT TO VOTE
Women’s groups in the Church have been asking for years to be able to vote at the important synods, where decisions are made that usually lead to a document from the pope.
In 2018, two “brothers” who are not ordained and are not priests were allowed to vote as leaders general of their religious orders. This caused a lot of trouble.
But Sister Sally Marie Hodgdon, an American who was the head of her order but was not called, was not allowed to vote.
Francis chose Sister Raffaella Petrini to be the number two governor of Vatican City for the first time in 2021. This made her the highest-ranking woman in the world’s smallest state.
In the same year, he put an Italian nun, Sister Alessandra Smerilli, in charge of justice and peace problems at the Vatican’s development office. She was given the number two job there.
He also named Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, as co-undersecretary of the Vatican department that plans synods.
Two years have been spent getting ready for the upcoming meeting. During that time, Catholics from all over the world were asked what they thought the future of the Church should look like.
Proponents have been happy about the talks because they are a chance to change the way power works in the Church and give lay Catholics, especially women, and people on the edges of society, a stronger voice.
Conservatives say that the process has been a waste of time, that it could hurt the Church’s hierarchical structure, and that it could weaken traditional teaching in the long run.
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