Pope Francis has given both lay men and lay women the right to vote at the Synod General Assembly
The Secretariat for the Synod announced on April 26, 2023 that seventy (70) “non-bishop members” appointed by the Pope will be able to vote at the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October. Half of this members will be women.
While it will still called the Synod of Bishops, wherein there will be more than 400 participants, 370 of whom will be voting members, Pope Francis will personally appoint 70 lay people, half of whom will be women, and several of whom will be youth. The 70 non-bishop members will be chosen by the Pope from a list of 140 prepared by the 7 International Reunions of Bishops' Conferences and the Assembly of Patriarchs of Eastern Catholic Churches. The choice of the 140 candidates, they added, shall take into account each person’s general culture, prudence, and knowledge and participation in the synodal process. They shall represent “various groupings of the faithful of the people of God (priests, consecrated women, deacons, lay faithful).
Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Secretariat for the Synod, and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the Synod’s General Relator, expressed at a press conference: “This is not a revolution but an important change." Cardinal Hollerich added, "Their presence ensures the dialogue between the prophecy of the people of God and the discernment of the pastors."
This development was in fact already embodied in the 2018 Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis Communio, which provided for the presence of "non-bishops" at the Synod. For the first time as well, the Synod will include several "facilitators". Cardinal Grech explained that this choice was born from the experience of the Synod study groups, "which showed us that the presence of experts can create a fruitful dynamic."
For the first time there will also be bishops from countries that do not have an Episcopal Conference represented at the Assembly. Cardinal Hollerich added that his Archdiocese of Luxembourg is one of them, along with Estonia and Moldova.
The upcoming 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in two moments or two sessions, spaced one year apart: the first from October 4 to 29, 2023, the second in October 2024.
Source: Vatican News
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli, AFP/File