#BreakingNews Pope Francis Allows Women and Laity to Vote at the Vatican's Synod of Bishops

Vatican News reports that newly introduced changes to the composition of the participants in the General Assembly next October in the Vatican: 70 "non-bishops" will also take part as voting members, identified by Episcopal Conferences and Councils of Eastern Churches and then appointed by the Pope.

It is requested that women are 50% and that the presence of young people is valued. Cardinals Grech and Hollerich: "It is not a revolution, but an asset for the Church which will be more complete"

Vatican News's Salvatore Cernuzio, from Vatican City, writes that at the Synod, lay men and women will also have the right to vote.

Neither the nature nor the name changes - which remains the Synod of Bishops - but the composition of the participants in next October's assembly in the Vatican on the theme of synodality will change, in which "non-bishop" members will also take part, therefore laymen appointed directly by the Pope , 50% of whom "wonder" that they are women. An explicit request, together with that of "enhancing" the presence of young people. Everyone will have the right to vote, reaching a number of voting members in the New Synod Hall of around 370 out of over 400 total participants.

These are the main changes and innovations introduced today by the Pope for the Synod which will seal the synodal path he himself started in 2021 in the autumn. "Not a revolution but an important change", Cardinals Mario Grech and Jean- Claude Hollerich, respectively general secretary of the Synod and general relator, illustrating the novelties in a meeting point in the Vatican Press Office.

"Non-bishop" members

The new provisions, communicated today in a letter to the heads of the continental Assemblies celebrated in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Oceania, do not abrogate the current legislation, the apostolic constitution Episcopalis Communio of 2018 which already provided for the presence of "non-bishops". With today's news - which are justified in the context of the synodal process that Francis wanted to start "from below" - the number is specified: 70 priests, consecrated persons, deacons, lay people, coming from the local Churches and representing the People of God. There will therefore be no more "hearers".

A "plenary" Assembly of bishops

“This decision – explained the General Secretariat of the Synod – reinforces the solidity of the process as a whole, incorporating in the Assembly the living memory of the preparatory phase, through the presence of some of those who were involved in it. In this way the episcopal specificity of the Synodal Assembly is not affected, but even confirmed". "We are talking about 21% of the Assembly which remains plenary an Assembly of bishops, with a certain participation of non-bishops", Hollerich reiterated again "Their presence ensures the dialogue between the prophecy of the people of God and the discernment of the shepherds".

Election and nomination

More specifically, the "non-bishop" members are nominated by the Pope from a list of 140 people identified by the Episcopal Conferences and by the Assembly of Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches (20 for each). As mentioned, it is requested that half be women and that young people be valued: "Because our world is like this", the two cardinals remarked. The choice takes into account general knowledge, "prudence", but also knowledge and participation in the synodal process. As members they have the right to vote. An important aspect, even if Grech hoped "that one day we will be able to do without the vote. The Synod is a discernment, a prayer, we don't stand behind the votes".

Five nuns and five religious

The five religious elected by the respective organizations of Superiors General and Superiors General (Uisg for the female branch and Usg for the male branch) will also have the right to vote. They - and this is the other novelty - take the place of the ten clerics of the institutes of consecrated life foreseen in the past. All elections - held in plenary and by secret ballot by the respective Synods, Councils and Episcopal Conferences - must be ratified by the Pope. And until the Pope confirms the election, the names of those elected are not known to the public.

The facilitators

Another novelty is that the Assembly is also attended - but without the right to vote - by "experts", people competent in various capacities on the subject discussed. There will also be fraternal delegates, members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and for the first time, the figures of "facilitators" will appear at the Synod, also experts who will facilitate the work at various times. A choice, explained Grech, born from the experience of the study groups "which showed us that these experts can create a dynamic that can bear fruit". "There are bishops who have never participated in the Synod, therefore the spiritual dimension must be facilitated", explained Hollerich, underlining that for the first time there will also be bishops from countries that do not have an Episcopal Conference in the Assembly. “His” Luxembourg is one of these, but also Estonia, Moldova. Thus, the two cardinals agreed, "the Church will be more complete and it will be a joy to have reunited her entirely in Rome".

Source: Edited Vatican News Italian Translation