Women’s Ordination Advocates Call for Votes for Catholic Women

For Immediate Release 21 September 2018

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) acknowledges the Vatican took a significant step toward building a more synodal church by replacing the 1965 Synod of Bishops’ constitution, "Episcopalis Communio,” to officially allow non-ordained persons to participate as voting members. Yet, even when the letter of the law is changed to be more inclusive, the culture and practice of gender inequality maddingly persists.

First in 2015, and again at the upcoming Synod on Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, religious brothers (non-ordained men) are named as voting members of the Synod. While theologically and canonically “equal” to their brothers, women religious are still denied a voting role. Why are women still excluded from voting? Why are the laity, including young people, sidelined and voiceless?

The reason? Bishop Fabio Fabene, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, offered this explanation: “For now, that is how it is."

“It is how it is,” is the logic of a frightened patriarchy. The practice of sacralized gender discrimination within the Catholic Church not only erodes its credibility, it sends a clear message to women: stay silent, stay invisible, stay in your place.

With new revelations of sexual abuse in the Church, we are facing the deep failures and sins of the current clerical system, a structure that risked the safety, faith, and trust of children and vulnerable people to protect itself. This kind of “boy’s club” clericalism cannot be trusted to lead a global discussion on Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, where only 10% of participants (“observers,” “consultors,”) will be women.

We refuse to accept “it is how it is” in cases of sexual abuse, and we refuse to accept “it is how it is” in cases of gender discrimination. These crimes must be stopped. Catholic women must vote.

WOW stands with survivors of sexual abuse and harassment by clergy, and all those who are silenced, dismissed or rejected for sharing their stories, or daring to advocate for equality. We believe that only when women have equal opportunity to make decisions, respond to their vocations, and hold meaningful leadership positions, can our Church begin to heal from its sins.

In the current climate of increased oppression against women and other marginalized groups, Catholics need justice, action, and transparency. A closed-door session of bishops and clerics discussing young people is not the solution we need, rather, it is the root of the problem.


Kate McElwee: (Italy & USA) +39 393 692 2100 / +1 607-725-1364 kmcelwee@womensordination.org

Alicja Baranowska: (Belgium & Poland)  +32 488 67 60 20  alicja.baranowska@wp.pl

Pat Brown: (UK) +44 7950048628 pat@patbrown-at.co.uk

Colm Holmes: (Ireland)  +353 86 606 3636 colmholmes2020@gmail.com

Kathleen Gibbons Schuck (USA) +1 215-872-1096 kschuck55@gmail.com