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Pope Francis Clears Way for Women and Lay Catholics To Vote in Upcoming Bishops’ Meeting

Summaries of these listening sessions were forwarded to Rome, and since February of this year, theologians, bishops and other church officials have been meeting in seven “continental assemblies” (excluding Antarctica but with one representing the Middle East) to discuss the issues raised during those conversations.

The listening sessions showed that Catholics nearly universally are concerned with the ordination of women, the need to adapt church doctrine on sexuality and the fight against clergy sex abuse.

In October 2023, the bishops of the church are invited meet at the Vatican in Rome to discuss these issues and pass resolutions based on the findings of the continental assemblies. A second session will be held a year later.

After Wednesday’s announcement, Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the General Secretariat for the Synod, and Cardinal Jean Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, relator general of the synod, met with journalists at the Vatican press office.

The cardinals presented the inclusion of nonbishops in the synod as significant but played down notions that the new members represented a break with tradition. The addition of lay men and women as voting members is “not a revolution, but rather an important change,” Grech said.

The “space in the tent has expanded,” Grech told journalists, recalling the title of the synod’s working document: “Enlarge the space of your tent.”

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