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Catholics Worldwide Express Aspirations for Women’s Full Participation in Ministry and Governance in Synod Document

Release date: October 28, 2022

Deborah Rose-Milavec, Co-Director of FutureChurch, 513.673.1401 (mobile),
Russ Petrus, Co-Director of FutureChurch, 216.228.0869 x2,

FutureChurch remains hopeful as the “Document for the Continental Phase of the Synod,” released on October 27, 2022, advances reforms within the Church that Catholics have long advocated for, including women’s full participation in ministry and governance in the life of the Church.

Shifting the culture of the Church toward one of “radical inclusivity”(31) and greater participation for women, LGBTQ+ Catholics, young people, divorced and remarried Catholics, married priests, and more, Catholics worldwide shared their hopes for a welcoming church where Catholics “enlarge their tents,” — to become a place of communion, a place of participation, and a foundation for mission (11).

As this consensus document makes clear, the desire for greater roles and equality for women is not limited to Catholics in the global North and West but, “Almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women” (64).

Specifically, the document reflects the fact that while not all voices are in unison on priestly ordination for women, there is a common discernment that Catholic women should:

  • Have an active role in the governing structures of Church bodies
  • Preach in parish settings
  • Be a part of the female diaconate

As the report shows, “many communities have already understood synodality as an invitation to listen to those who feel exiled from the Church…beginning with many women and young people who do not feel their gifts and abilities are recognised” (38).

Further, the report includes many references to the active and co-responsible role of the laity.  Besides “ridding the Church of clericalism, ”(58) many churches also encouraged “the implementation of a synodal style of liturgical celebration that allows for the active participation of all the faithful –rethinking a liturgy too concentrated on the celebrant, to the modalities of active participation of the laity, to the access of women to ministerial roles” (58).

During this Continental Phase, Catholics are asked to review the document and discern if and how it should be amended as synod officials begin writing the working document for the October 2023 gathering.  To encourage Catholics to take part in that process, FutureChurch will hold two discernment sessions on Wednesday, January 24 and 31 at 7pm ET.  At that time, we will pray and reflect on the document and offer feedback. FutureChurch will gather that feedback and send it to the Synod of Bishops and the U.S. Bishops on March 18th in time for it to be incorporated into the working document for the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome.


About FutureChurch: Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership. It is a national coalition of parish centered Catholics striving to educate fellow Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist (the Mass), and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic Church. FutureChurch is a nonprofit organization that makes presentations throughout the country, distributes education, advocacy and prayer resources and recruits activists who work on behalf of its mission.