The composition of the Synod assembly will be more diverse than ever, while bishops will remain a majority.
The presence of women and lay people, the less dominant role of Europe and the Roman Curia: The composition of the 363-member assembly of the Synod on the Church already reveals several important trends. I.MEDIA presents the five most significant statistics for understanding this list, presented on July 7, 2023.
For the first time, membership of the synodal assembly is open not only to bishops and cardinals, but also to priests, religious men and women, and lay people. This was the wish of Pope Francis, who quickly set the tone by appointing French Xaviere sister Nathalie Becquart as the institution’s undersecretary. More than a quarter of the members of next October’s assembly could not have been appointed at the last synod, in 2019.
One of the most notable changes on the list is the appointment of women for the first time. This October, there will be 54 women, or 15% of the membership. Of these 54 members, 25 are religious sisters and 29 are lay people.
While the synodal assembly remains predominantly episcopal — 56% bishops, which rises to 73% including cardinals and patriarchs — the 43 lay members will make up the third largest “group” at this synod. It’s also worth noting that religious sisters are clearly more represented than religious men — 24 nuns versus 2 non-ordained religious.
Europe is still in the relative majority in the assembly, but not as clearly as in the past. Only 32% of members come from Europe, and we note the importance taken by Africa and Asia, respectively 19% and 18%, i.e. almost one member in five. The Americas combined account for more than one in four members (27%), and Oceania for one in 2o.
Finally, the Roman Curia will occupy a small place in the October Roman synod assembly, with less than one member in 1o coming from the Curia. In addition to the heads of dicasteries and members of the Synod of Bishops, the Pontiff has invited several prefects emeritus, including those of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.