Francis needs ‘most help’ regarding women


The Synod on Synodality didn’t offer “a single idea of how to meaningfully include women” says Ireland’s former president, Professor Mary McAleese.

There was just a tentative suggestion that the two unpublished papal-commissioned reports on women and the diaconate be made available for the 2024 Synod, she says.

Balance of power

Referring to October’s synod on synodality and its subsequent synthesis report, McAleese remarked that the balance of power within the Synod “always lay with the bishops”.

As an example, she says the African bishops were responsible for LGBTQI inclusion “totally” disappearing from the synod.

She also blames Pope Francis for reducing “to bare minimalism of the ‘urgent’ need for greater inclusion of women in decision-making”.

In her words, Francis “conveniently” took female ordination off the agenda in advance of the Synod. He also excluded blessings for same-sex marriages at the same time.

Though everything was supposed to be on the agenda, it “obviously” wasn’t, she says.

Some progress

Professor Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University can see Francis’s achievements.

In a Trinity College Dublin lecture, Faggioli praised Francis’s achievement in enlarging the Synod’s membership and voting rights.

He began something “new” and “a different kind of Synod” Faggioli said.

Women’s presence at the synod was not token, he added.

“It was more than that. Their voices were really present and heard and visible.”

He thinks we are at a very important juncture for the Catholic Church.

However he said he is “very hopeful”; what he saw at the synod was “very encouraging. A few years ago I would never have imagined this happening” he said.


The pope needs help in regard to women, Faggioli said.

“As much as he is very open minded on LGBT,” his language on women “is from another century”.

Francis needs to be “surrounded by women theologians” he suggested.

Best synod contribution

In McAleese’s opinion, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s synod contribution was the best.

He pointed out that “the Pope alone has complete freedom to make changes to canon law, language and teaching”.

The “People of God” had suggested these changes, he said.

They “painstakingly expressed their views on [proposed changes] during the two-year Synodal ‘listening’ journey.”


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