While the synodal assembly will include priests and lay men and women, bishops will still constitute the majority.
Even though it is being opened up for the first time to the laity, women, and priests, the Synod of Bishops “will remain the Synod of Bishops,” insisted Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod, when presenting the list of participants for the next Synod on July 7, 2023. Bishops still constitute the majority of the members, he said, because they have “a foundational ministry.”
See a look at the make-up here:
Responding to questions from a number of journalists, Sr. Nathalie Becquart emphasized the novelty of this assembly. This reflects a concern to represent the diversity “in culture, origin, and profile” present in the Church, she said.
This variety aims to promote “a diversity of theological approaches” and not an ideological agenda, she said.
“No one wants to depart from the Church’s teaching,” assured Cardinal Grech, responding to conjectures about doctrinal changes that might result from this Synod. “We will have theologically prepared people as our traveling companions,” he added, referring to the presence of several current or former officials of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. The new prefect, Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, the two prefects emeritus, Cardinals Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer and Gerhard Ludwig Müller, and the dicastery’s secretary, Msgr. Armando Matteo, will all be taking part in the meeting, by papal appointment.
Room for women, other faiths, and the disabled
The French Xaviere nun is historically the first woman to be granted the right to vote in the Synod. In that context, she also spoke of the presence of 54 women in the assembly. “Many women sometimes have a synodal sensitivity, [a stronger sense] of collaboration,” she pointed out. And the many women religious, whose lives are “rooted among those who are poorest,” will contribute their insight into the more marginalized populations, she said.
The organizers have also indicated that people with disabilities will be present, invited by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
The delegates from other Christian denominations have not yet been named. They will be more numerous than usual, explained the Synod’s under-secretary, as this assembly carries a “very important ecumenical orientation.”
The Synod is “not just about what happens in October in Rome,” concluded Sister Nathalie Becquart. She expressed the hope that this process will continue “at a grassroots level in dioceses, parishes and movements.”