CV NEWS FEED // Women from liberal and conservative activist groups are weighing in on controversial topics related to gender roles in the Church as the October 2023 Synod On Synodality continues.
A conservative Catholic women’s organization expressed concern in a statement last week that the “moral authority of the Catholic Church” has been compromised and asked the bishops attending the Synod on Synodality to provide proof that they “do in fact continue to profess the Catholic Faith.”
Restore Tradition released the Declaration of Catholic Women on the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ asking the bishops attending the synod to adhere to traditional Church teaching, particularly with respect to the role of women in the Church.The statement criticizes “those entrusted with the preservation and propagation of the deposit of faith” who support such reforms, describing them as “more preoccupied with ‘non-judgmental’ acceptance” of modern ideology than with providing pastoral guidance for the Church.
“As Catholic women who practice the faith and believe all that the Holy Mother Church teaches,” the statement reads, “We wish to be represented only by bishops, to whom Christ entrusted the governance and leadership of His Church, and only insofar as they believe and profess the Church’s Faith.”
“Those who come in by another way,” the statement continues, “are “thieves and robbers who come only to steal, to kill, and to destroy” (Jn 10:10). We and our families, and indeed all Catholic laity, have a right to orthodox doctrine and faithful preaching from the pastors of the Church.”
Restore Tradition’s founder, Jane Brennan, told CatholicVote: “Restore Tradition does not agree with the calls for the ordination of women or for women to serve in any other nontraditional roles, such as deacons.”
“From the very beginning, when Jesus established His Church, the role of women has always been supportive,” said Brennan.
“This is a good thing,” she continued. “It is sacred. To find the find role as ‘helper’ in the Church as meaningless or insignificant is an offense to God and to the perfect order He created. The greatest, most perfect example of this is Our Blessed Mother Mary.”
On the other side of the debate, a network of progressive organizations recently announced it is hosting an alternative synod alongside the synod of bishops in Rome.
The event, entitled “Spirit Unbounded: Your Lay-Led Synodal Assembly,” is sponsored by a group called Root and Branch and is focused on revolutionizing the role of women in the Church. It began October 8 online through exclusive YouTube streaming and ends October 14.
Root and Branch advocates for “reform in the institution of Catholic clericalism,” including female ordination. The group said it decided to have an alternative synod after it was not invited to the October 2023 Synod on Synodality.
Former Irish president Mary McAleese, a speaker for the event, recently told the Guardian that Church officials and attendees of the Synod on Synodality “have to do something more than a cynical exercise in kicking the can down the
“If the cardinals and bishops can be humbled into listening to the people of God, maybe the Holy Spirit will have a chance to bring about change,” she added.
The alternate conference will hinge on a discussion of two texts, a “Proposed Constitution for the Catholic Church,” and “The Bristol Text,” a document which calls on the Church to vary its teachings according to “dialogue with all seekers after truth in each age and place.”
The program of events includes over 115 speakers, who will address subjects under the themes “The Discipleship of Equals,” “Unequal Equality,” “Shaking the Tree: From Silence to Speech,” and “Hypocrisy.”
Cherie Blair, who also spoke with the Guardian about the alternative synod, will give a talk entitled, “To what extent should Christian/Catholic attitudes and teachings about women change?”
Blair said her talk would critique the Church for failing to minister to or recognize women properly.
“There remains a strong sense that the church does not do enough for women,” she said. “That its structures and teachings on matters such as birth control and its priorities do not always serve women well.”
Women’s Ordination Worldwide, one of the organizations taking part in Spirit Unbound, held a protest in central Rome on October 6th—two days after the start of the synod—to advocate for liberal Church reform to sanction female ordination.
The synodal process, which has been described as a “listening” event for the Church, will include discussion of how women’s roles could change within the Church. Unlike previous synods, the October 2023 synod also includes female participants who are deliberating alongside cardinals, bishops, priests, and other laypeople.