News within the Church: Pope Francis has decided that, starting from the next synod of bishops, they will also include a consistent female presence. How was the introduction of these female quotas taken?
The pope’s pink quotas
For this year, the ordinary general assembly of the synod of bishops will be held in October; generally, in addition to the bishops, 10 religious superiors and 70 “non-bishop members” are also invited. Pope Francis has decided to change the rules of the game, taking a first but significant step within the revolution of the role of women and their condition within the Church. In fact, among these 80 extras, it will also be mandatory to include 40 women. For Cardinal Claude Hollerich it is not a question of a revolution, since they “make victims and we do not want to make victims”, but an important change, “normal in life and in history”, which in recent years has been requested by many fathers synodal meetings, which “underlined the need for the entire Church to reflect on the place and roles of women within it”, as Cardinal Mario Grech explained some time ago.
What is the Synod of Bishops?
The Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution of the Catholic Church’s College of Bishops, established in 1965 to keep the experience of the Council alive. The meeting serves to discuss important issues related to the Catholic Church and to advise the pope on how to proceed to tell and bring religion to the world. Despite the women’s quotas just introduced by Pope Francis, the synod will undoubtedly remain “the synod of bishops”, above all given the numerical ratio between clerical and non-clerical, already low in the past and which therefore will not be damaged by the female presence. A presence that has been clamoring to be heard for years, especially after being excluded from the synods on the Family and on the Amazon. However, in October, the cards in play will officially change: of the 10 clerics elected among the Major Superiors, 5 must be nuns. Added to these are 70 faithful whom the Pope will choose from a list provided to him following the episcopal conferences: 35 of them will be women and lay people.
Women and the Church: a complex relationship
On the one hand, obviously, jubilation: for the first time, the importance of women is formally and officially recognized beyond whether or not they belong to the Church; for example, the Women’s Ordination Conference, which has always stood by women priests, rejoices. On the other hand, however, there are those who do not seem satisfied with the choice made by Pope Francis: “Made-to-measure political correctness is a dangerous precedent for the Church. The final document could even be deliberative rather than advisory. The devil is always in the details,” reads a blog from the more conservative religious world, for example.