Patricia Murray, a woman religious, is pleased with her appointment as the first woman member of the commission preparing the interim report of the Synod on Synodality at the Vatican. Appointments like hers have a strong symbolic character, Murray said at a press conference at the Vatican on Monday. Her appointment testifies to the Catholic Church's desire to give women a real say in decision-making.
The commission was set up last Tuesday and met for the first time on Saturday. Murray said that the 13 members had already discussed the interim report. It should not be too long and should be divided into thematic sections. However, there will be many areas in the document that require deeper reflection after the current phase of the Synod on Synodality. Pope Francis had personally appointed Murray to the commission. She is executive director of the International Association of Superiors of Religious Orders. Most of the members were elected by the participants in the current synod.
In the meantime, the assembly is also devoting itself to controversial topics. Among the topics discussed at the meeting on Monday morning were diversity in the church, ecumenism, dialogue with other religions, clericalism, the role of women in the church and the diaconate for women. This was said by the Synod's press officer, Sheila Pires.
Chinese bishops leave Synod on Synodality early
Since 4 October, some 350 synod members have been discussing new forms of behaviour in the church and more participation for unconsecrated believers. For the first time, a larger group of lay people - including women - also has the right to vote. The meeting will end on 29 October with a solemn service. By then, there will be a summary interim report. Only after a second part of the deliberations in October 2024 will the members vote on their findings, which they will submit to the Pope as proposals for a final decision.
Meanwhile, two bishops from China are leaving the Synod on Synodality at the Vatican early. Vatican communications chief Paolo Ruffini confirmed to journalists on Monday that the bishops were returning to China because of "pastoral needs" in their dioceses. He believed they were already leaving this Tuesday.
The Pope had appointed Bishop Antonio Yao Shun of Jining in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia and Bishop Joseph Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun in Shandong to attend the Synod on Synodality. The move was considered extraordinary because the Holy See and China do not have diplomatic relations with each other. There are also frequent conflicts over the appointment of bishops. When the Pope visited Mongolia in early September, the communist regime in China banned bishops and faithful from the mainland from leaving the country to take part in the visit to the neighbouring country. (tmg/KNA)