Friday, 19 July

Vatican sets in-depth review of women's church leadership roles

World News
Pope Francis attends a meeting in Trieste, Italy, on July 7, 2024

The Vatican on Tuesday revealed plans to finalize a document on leadership roles of women in the Roman Catholic Church in response to long-running demands for a greater say in the institution.

Aiming to align with Pope Francis’ push for broader reforms, the initiative will enter its second main phase in October, when a group of bishops will convene a nearly monthlong synod, or assembly of bishops, to build on an inconclusive session that ended in fall 2023.

“The in-depth examination of the issues at hand — in particular the question of the necessary participation of women in the life and leadership of the church — has been entrusted to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith,” said an announcement by the Vatican.

The Catholic Church has long been split on whether to allow women to serve as deacons. Pope Francis called the synod more than three years ago in an effort to open the church as a more welcoming space for marginalized demographics.

When Vatican officials on Tuesday released a working document to inform the upcoming synod, it was the first time the initiative was publicly revealed.

According to the Vatican statement, 10 “study groups” will consider some of the most complicated issues in the reform process, including the role of women and LGBTQ+ Catholics. The study groups have said they will continue working past October, an indication that outcomes may not be finalized by formal conclusion of the synod.

Catholic women tend to lead in passing down education to future generations. Women have complained of lower status since the priesthood is a role reserved for men. Pope Francis has voiced support for allowing only men to be priests but has given women high-ranking jobs in the Vatican.

Francis has allowed women to vote on specific proposals in synods. Previously, only men could vote.

Francis also appointed two commissions to study specifically whether women can be deacons — ordained ministers who are not priests and cannot celebrate Mass.

After the 2023 synod, there was no mention at all of homosexuality in the final summary, although the working document that was submitted to the synod mentioned “LGBTQ+ Catholics.”