No woman has the right to vote in the Synod for the Amazon that begins next Sunday in Rome, an association of Catholic women is denouncing.

Driving the news

The association Voices of Faith is planning a protest Thursday in St. Peter’s Square in Rome to demand of Pope Francis full gender equality in the Catholic Church.

“The October 3 event is the culmination of a path of religious women around the world who have been invited to Rome to discuss their experiences and their demands for equality both in leadership and in decision-making in the Catholic Church”, communications director of Voices of Faith Stephanie Lorenzo told Spanish news agency Europa Press.


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Go deeper

The initiative to be relaunched Thursday, #votesforcatholicwomen, was born of a frustration patent in the 2018 Synod on Young People.

Only a dozen women participated in the debates at that meeting.

No woman had the right to vote on the Synod’s final document.

At the time, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella group for the heads of Institutes of Catholic Women Religious, demanded of Rome that at least the representatives of women’s orders be allowed to vote, if not laywomen.

The UISG received no answer.

But Voices of Faith is not backing down.

“The Synod of the Amazon that will begin in early October is key to the Catholic Church and no woman has the ability to vote”, Lorenzo denounced.

“Although the decisions [of the Synod] will also affect women religious and women’s congregations.

“There are 180 synod fathers with the right to vote, and none is female.

“What is our Church losing by ignoring the experience, skills, talents and gifts of half of its members? We want to draw attention to this fact and to the lack of women in decision-making roles in the Church”.

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Why it matters

Lorenzo pointed out that male religious superiors, who are not ordained, voted at the Synod on Young People.

The excuse, then, that only the ordained can vote – and only men can be ordained – just doesn’t hold water.

“This is incorrect and unfair because religious brothers have the same canonical status as women religious superiors”, Lorenzo criticised.

“We only ask for equality and inclusion”, she added.

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What’s next

The #votesforcatholicwomen protest this Thursday features a video and a petition for women’s equality in the Church.

At the event in Rome, a dozen prominent Catholic women will address the crowds on why the Pope must “make a path for women religious superiors to work and vote as equals alongside their brothers in Christ at meetings of the Synod of Bishops”, as Voices of Faith states on its website.

With the petition, repeated again this year after last year’s Synod for Young People, “we again urge that religious women have the right to vote in the Synod”, Lorenzo said.

“We got more than 9,600 signatures [last year] that we sent to the Synod office, but we still haven’t got any response.

“We hope we get answers not only in words but also in concrete actions”, Lorenzo concluded.


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