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Catholics for Choice Applauds Historic Vatican Inclusion of Women in Upcoming Synod of Bishops

April 26, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Contact: John Becker, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 203-0931

Catholics for Choice Applauds Historic Vatican Inclusion of Women in Upcoming Synod of Bishops

WASHINGTON – Catholics for Choice, which uplifts and amplifies the voices of the majority of Catholics who believe in reproductive freedom, released the following statement from President Jamie L. Manson, M.Div., in response to the Vatican’s announcement today that Pope Francis has expanded participation in the October 2023 gathering of the Synod of Bishops to give women and other non-ordained people a voice, and a vote, for the first time:

“Pope Francis’s unprecedented decision to finally open the doors of the Synod of Bishops — the church’s primary consultative body — to lay people is a monumental and welcome step toward a more just and inclusive church that listens to, reflects upon, and is guided by the wisdom and lived experiences of the people in the pews. I am deeply grateful to the Pope for making this much-needed change, and especially for his attention to ensuring that half of the lay appointees are women.

“This victory would never have been possible without the tireless leadership of women’s equality advocates from around the world, especially our friends at the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) who are long-term partners with Catholics for Choice in efforts to reform the church. The advocacy of these courageous women, who pressured and persevered in the face of massive, ongoing resistance from the all-male Catholic hierarchy, prove that great change can be made from the margins of our church.

“In my former work at the National Catholic Reporter, I was the only writer who covered and photographed the October 2018 protests in St. Peter’s Square during the Synod on Young People. I watched as peaceful women demonstrators, led by WOC, were detained, manhandled, and had their passports confiscated by Roman police — all for having the audacity to demand that women be heard and given the right to vote. This year, those often-lonely, high-risk efforts finally come to fruition.

“This moment inspires us to continue bold action to bring the church into step with the realities of modern life and fundamental human rights — as Catholics for Choice, and in partnership with our reform-minded allies. That’s why later this year, I will be in Rome once again to pray, peacefully demonstrate, and bear witness to abortion stories of women around the world outside the Synod hall in in Vatican City. But unlike last time, I will do so with the knowledge that among the 35 women inside that hall, there will almost statistically certainly be some who have had abortion care. We pray that those women will feel the safety and support they need to bring their wisdom to the table, and we redouble our commitment to working for full gender equality in the Catholic church, in accordance with the teachings and example of Jesus. If today’s historic news teaches us anything, it’s that while winter may be long, you can’t hold back the spring.”

Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect, and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives.