"Canon law and theology can do much more to promote the role of women in the Church," said Card Gracias. For Sister Roselei Bertoldo, “The fact that we have been called to the Synod not only to participate, but to be an active part of the synodal process stems from the fact that we want to be major players.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Giving women more leeway within the Church was at the centre of today’s press briefing of the Synod for the Amazon. The great role they play within the ecclesial community was highlighted as was the fact that “canon law, for women, includes everything except listening to the confession and celebrating Mass,” said card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai.
"Canon law and theology can do much more to promote the role of women in the Church," Card Gracias said. More leeway can be provided to women in the context of the "decentralisation" promoted by Pope Francis.
"We bishops are not exploiting all the possibilities we have available to promote this process", the prelate explained. “There are so many more things that can be done for women, and we must do them.”
For Mgr Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzmán, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia, “women are a majority in the Church, but they are a minority in decision-making, almost invisible. That must change.”
"Our structures were conceived in such a way that only some people can decide", but "there is no need for the Holy See to give indications about it. The mindset must change at all levels, in individual parishes as well.”
Sister Roselei Bertoldo, a member of A Cry for Life Network, a group involved in the fight against human trafficking, also expressed women’s desire to "participate more effectively at the decision-making level.”
“We are the Church and we make the Church,” she said. “The fact that we have been called to the Synod, not only to participate, but to be an active part of the synodal process, stems from the fact that we demand to be major players.”
Sister Bertoldo talked about the work done by A cry for life Network against human trafficking. "We work in the Church to raise awareness about this reality."
In Brazil "trafficking is a very invisible and little-known crime, linked to the sexual exploitation of girls and women, in particular to the issue of domestic servitude. Indigenous girls go to live in homes to be educated, but, in reality, end up being exploited sexually and become enslaved as child labour.”
“Ours is a work of raising awareness and educating people, so that we can denounce the reality of which they are victims. Many women do not have the courage [to speak out], because it is a crime that takes away their dignity. They end up falling into a trap: when they become aware of their exploitation, they lose their dignity and fail to report. At the same time, there is drug trafficking.”
For the nun, “The Synod has focused on the abuse and exploitation of women as well as human trafficking.” Hence, “public policies in all Latin American countries must offer assistance to the victims,” whilst “the Church must continue to play a role of prevention and political presence in places we can reach.”
With respect to the role of women, Rev Zenildo Luiz Pereira da Silva, rector of the São José Seminary of Manaus and vice president of the Organisation of Seminaries and Institutes of Brazil (OSIB), noted that “our structures are such that only some people have decision-making power; that's what we need to change. Parish pastoral councils, for example, have only a consultative function, but nothing or nobody should prevent them from becoming deliberative.”