During a large meeting that included Pope Francis, Catholic bishops, and laypeople on Saturday, it was stated that it is “urgent” to allow more participation of women in the realm of church governance. The gathering called for research to be completed on women becoming deacons within a year.
However, there was no immediate action taken to allow women more authority within the church. The Associated Press reported that the gathering did not make mention of the possibility of welcoming members of the LGBTQ+ community despite Francis’ previous insistence that the church should consider blessing gay couples.
After a closed-door discussion that took a month, Francis’ meeting produced a 42-page text that covered a large swath of issues. Each paragraph had to be passed with a two-thirds vote before it could be included. And while none of the proposals therein are binding, the issue that received the least amount of “yes” votes was the question of women involved in higher roles within the church.
The meeting, called the Synod of Synodality, included 450 participants, though only 365 of those who attended were allowed to vote. The document in question represented a “church on the move,” according to Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, a top official during the meeting.
“And that’s the important thing, that we move,” Hollerich added.
Progressive were hoping that the meeting would signal a change in the way the church perceives LGBTQ+ individuals, and that it would offer women more opportunities within the higher rungs of the church. However, the more conservative side of the debate suggested that it was important for the church to continue its 2,000-year tradition.
In an original move by Francis, he allowed women and laypeople to take part in the vote alongside bishops, instituting his belief that the “People of God” were more important than the preachers.
While the future of women’s involvement in the church is still uncertain, the New York Times reported that the final text said it was “urgent to guarantee that women can participate in decision-making processes and assume roles of responsibility in pastoral and ministry.”
The text went on to say that Francis had made a point to increase the number of women involved in higher positions within the Vatican, and that the same should happen in local churches around the world.
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