(CNN Spanish) – On Wednesday, the Vatican published a series of unprecedented amendments so that the laity — the non-priestly faithful — would have more space in church matters.
Up to 70 of them will be able to participate and vote in the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in October. It’s not a small number. According to the meeting organizers, this group will constitute more than 20% of the attendees.
In addition, half of these seventy, by the will of the Pope, will be women. Until now, with a few rare exceptions, only bishops could vote at these meetings.
The Synod of Bishops is an advisory body established by Paul VI in 1965 and, as its name implies, consisted exclusively of bishops. They meet periodically at the request of the Pope to discuss various issues, from the situation of the Church in the Amazon to youth and faith. The end result of these meetings is a document that does not have any kind of legislative value but serves as a gauge of how a group close to the pope feels about the controversy. The pope is free to incorporate into his teaching the requests or ideas put forward by the participants in the synod. You can ignore it if you see fit.
The organizers of the upcoming gathering make it clear that this change introduced by the Pope is not a revolution, but an important fact because it somehow makes the laity, especially women, have a greater presence in the hierarchical Church.
At the same time they ask for prudence because this body, the Synod, should not be equal to Parliament. In fact, Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of this body, says he is in favor of annulling the votes that decide what to include or not to include in the document delivered to the pope. The reason he claims is that this body should look more like a meeting serving prayer than dictating rules.
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