Catholic women’s organisation Voices of Faith is appealing to the world’s bishops to give women a vote in synods, the major decision-making bodies in the Church.

The big picture

Voices of Faith is organising a major push for gender equality in the global Church coinciding with October’s Amazon Synod.

“In October 2019 another Bishops’ Synod will gather in Rome to discern the future of the Catholic Church in Amazonia” states Voices of Faith on its website.

“Yet women religious who outnumber brothers almost 10 to 1 globally and whose female superiors have the same canonical status as brother superiors, do not have the right to vote at these Synods. This must change if we want to see equality in the leadership of our Church”.

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Driving the news

Presenting the October Voices of Faith event, organisation managing director Chantal Götz told that many of the world’s bishops “express their views on reform opportunities, including the position of women in the Church, but no one is brave enough to take the first step, to implement what they say”.

Götz explained that the Voices of Faith event will hear “from a multitude of sisters who run their churches and have ideas on how to help bridge the gap between the sexes. This especially when it comes to the role of the Catholic Church in decision-making”.


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Go deeper

Sister Irene Gassmann, prioress of the Swiss Benedictine convent of Fahr, told that one of the goals of the Voices of Faith meeting is that women get a vote in meetings like the Amazon Synod.

“It is still incomprehensible why friars who are not priests have the right to vote, but nuns do not”, denounced Gassmann, referencing the fact that, although they are not bishops, male religious superiors get a vote in synod proceedings.

Gassmann said synods would only “profit” from the “potential” of female voters.

What’s next

The Voices of Faith event will be held Thursday 3rd October in the Biblioteca Vallicelliana on the Piazza della Chiesa Nuova in Rome.

Organisers are planning for it to be a celebration of religious sisters who “many times in the history of Christianity” have “stood at the frontiers of change”, according to information on the website.

“As prophets and pioneers, atuned to the movements of the Holy Spirit”, Catholic women “have discovered new horizons of our faith in changing times”, Voices of Faith recalls.

At this point in time, confirmed speakers include female religious from Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, India, the United States and the Philippines.

Former nun and anti-abuse campaigner Doris Wagner will also be in attendance, as will the Bishop of Basel in Switzerland, Felix Gmür.


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.