Vatican City, Oct 4, 2019 / 13:00 pm
In Rome this week, two groups who say their voices are not often heard by Church leaders held events to speak out against aspects of the Amazon synod with which they disagree, with both groups offering dramatic assessments about the meaning and significance of the synod of bishops.
Voice of the Family, a network of ultra-conservative groups, held a roundtable Oct. 4 to express their opposition to this month’s meeting of synod of bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region, which speakers said promotes paganism. Over the course of the three-hour event, speakers critiqued the preparatory document for the synod, which they said defer to pagan elements of indigenous religions.
The previous day, the organization Voices of Faith hosted a much different event in Rome. Titled “And You Sister... What Do You Say?” that meeting saw eight religious sisters and nuns present their vision of gender equality and the future of the Church, including calling for women religious to be allowed to cast votes on the final document of the Amazon synod.
Speakers Oct. 3 included American Sr. Simone Campbell, a member of the “Nuns on the Bus” tour, and German Doris Wagner, a former religious sister and member of Familia spiritualis Opus (FSO), informally known as “Das Werk.”
A group of Benedictine nuns from Fahr Monastery near Basel, Switzerland, led by their Prioress Irene Gassmann, traveled to Rome by bus for the event. The nuns, part of the women’s rights activist group “Kirche mit*,” and wore orange capes which said “votes for Catholic women.”
Voices of Faith created the #votesforCatholicwomen initiative in 2016, in response to what they see as the injustice of women religious taking part in the synod as consultors and auditors, but being unable to vote on the final resolutions and documents.
They note that, in the past few meetings of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, a small number of non-ordained religious brothers have been allowed to vote in an exception to synodal norms that provide that only ordained clerics may vote on the assembly’s final document.
In a press conference Oct. 1, Voices of Faith, together with the Women’s Ordination Conference, a group which advocates for the priestly ordination of women in opposition to established Church teaching, said they wanted women to have a “deliberative status” in the synod, not only a consultative role.