What to know about Pope Francis' summit of bishops regarding future of church

    WORLD  04 October 2023 - 00:56

    Pope Francis is to convene a global gathering of bishops and laypeople on October 4 to discuss the future of the Catholic Church, addressing previously sensitive topics such as abuse within the institution and the inclusion of marginalized groups such as women and LGBTQ+.

    According to Deutsche Welle, the Synod of Bishops to be held from October 4 to 29 at the Vatican, marks a significant departure as it allows women and laypersons to vote on specific proposals alongside bishops, reflecting the Pope's belief that the church should prioritize its congregation over its hierarchy.

    The meeting's agenda was developed through a two-year process that involved extensive consultation with Catholics worldwide. The resulting working document encourages discussions on various topics, posing questions aimed at stimulating debate. Some issues, however, seem to have already reached a consensus during the consultation phase.

    Key points on the agenda include promoting women to decision-making roles in the church, such as deacons, and giving ordinary believers more influence in church governance. The document calls for a more inclusive approach to LGBTQ+ Catholics and marginalized groups within the church. It also seeks new accountability measures to oversee how bishops exercise their authority to prevent abuses.

    However, some conservative factions within the church have expressed reservations about the synod, fearing it could reopen debates on issues the church considers settled. They have raised concerns about doctrinal matters, homosexuality, female ordination, and church authority.

    Five conservative cardinals from various continents recently made their concerns public by presenting the Pope with a letter containing five questions, or "dubia," seeking affirmation of church teachings. They argued that the synod was causing confusion.

    Pope Francis has responded by emphasizing that the changing world prompts the church to better understand and explain its teachings, and that the synod is a means of discerning the way forward. He encouraged an open dialogue and urged against fear of addressing these questions.

    The Synod of Bishops, first established in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, consists of 365 voting members, including the Pope, with 54 women among them. Delegates are selected by national bishops' conferences, nominated by the Pope, and chosen by religious orders. Additionally, approximately 100 experts and facilitators have been included to guide the discussions, although they will not participate in the final voting.

    The inclusion of bishops from China in this year's gathering is significant, signaling improved cooperation between the Vatican and Beijing, particularly regarding the Catholic Church's situation in China. Another session of the synod is planned for the following year, where specific proposals for the Pope to consider in a future document are expected to be put forward.

    Caliber.Az

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