African Synod Calls for Inclusion of Women

The final recommendations from the Synod for Africa held at the Vatican in October called for a more collaborative style of decision making in the Church, new structures for decisionmaking authority by women, and a recommendation that the Vatican create a study commission on women in the Church within the Pontifical Council for the Family.

African nuns told the synod that they want more of a say in running the Catholic Church on their continent, saying they have special talents and shouldn’t be relegated to cleaning churches and mending vestments. “The synod fathers have heard the cry of women,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson of Cape Coast, Ghana. “Women need to be recognized in society as well as in the Church as active members.” Cardinal Turkson, who has long been sympathetic to issues related to the poor and to women, was just named to head the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace.

A proposition condemning female genital mutilation was included in the 57 propositions presented to Pope Benedict on October 24. Bishop Michael Mabuga Msonganzila of Musoma, Tanzania said the practice was widespread in his diocese. He believes the Church must offer alternative rituals for helping girls mark the passage to womanhood.

FutureChurch’s successful campaign to include women experts at the 2008 Synod on the Word may have started a trend. Thirty-five percent (9 of 26) of the African synod experts are women. This compares with just fifteen percent at the Synod on the Word (6 of 41). The increase is significant since women experts participate in small group deliberations with bishops.

Focus on FutureChurch

Fall 2009


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