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Pope Francis gives women vote in upcoming influential bishops’ meeting

Pope Francis approved changes to allow women to vote for the first ever at a global gathering of bishops.

Women’s groups within the Catholic Church, who for years have demanded the right to vote in high-profile synods, hailed the historic move for an institution which has been dominated by men for centuries.

Kate McElwee, of the Women’s Ordination Conference (which advocates women’s ordination), said: “This is an important crack in the stained glass ceiling.”

Since the 1960s, Popes have invited the bishops of the world to Rome for a few week-long debates on specific topics.


The bishops then vote on the specific proposals they want to make and present them to the Pope, who will produce a document that takes their opinions into consideration.

Women were only allowed to attend influential meetings as observers.

According to the new rules announced Wednesday, five sisters of religious orders will join five priests in representing religious orders as voting representatives.

Pope Francis decided to also appoint seventy non-bishops members of the Synod, a papal advisory group. He asked that at least half of these be women. The women will also have the right to vote.

About 300 people usually attend synods, so most of the men who have voting rights are still present.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich said that the change was important, but not revolutionary.

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Pope Francis upheld the Catholic Church’s ban against ordaining female priests but took steps to give women a greater say in decisions.

He has nominated several women in high-ranking Vatican posts, but none of them heads any major departments or offices.

Two years ago, preparations for the October meeting of bishops began. During this time, Catholics from around the globe were asked to share their visions for the future church.


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