Women’s role in church life needs deeper reflection

Women’s role in church life will be given greater focus thanks to an amendment Pope Francis has made to the statutes of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life.

He has added a reference to the dicastery’s responsibility for promoting deeper reflection on the role of women in the church and society.

“The dicastery works to deepen the reflection on the relationship between men and women in their respective specificity, reciprocity, complementarity and equal dignity,” the new statutes say.

“Valuing the feminine ‘genius,’ it offers a contribution to ecclesial reflection on the identity and mission of women in the church and in society, promoting their participation.”

The new statutes, which Francis has approved “on an experimental basis,” eliminate a requirement that the office has three separate sections — for laity, for family and for life — each presided over by an undersecretary.

Now the office will have “at least two lay undersecretaries.”

The dicastery must “in accordance with the principles of collegiality, synodality and subsidiarity,” maintain relations with national bishops’ conferences, dioceses and other church groups and promote collaboration among them.

It must also offer “guidelines for training programmes for engaged couples preparing for marriage, and for young married couples.”

These guidelines respond to Amoris Laetitia’s requirement to improve marriage preparation programmes.

Other amendments to the dicastery’s work involve:

  • extra responsibility for the pastoral care in relation to ‘irregular’ situations’ – such as cohabiting couples and couples who are divorced and civilly remarried
  • care for youths and young adults, promoting their involvement in the church and advocating for their needs in society.



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