Reflections of three women at the centre of C9 meetings

The two-day work session of the Council of Cardinals that concluded on Tuesday focused on the role of women in the Church and on the issue of the protection of minors. Cardinals Ambongo and Gracias note the many opportunities for developing women's leadership in the Church.

Jun 19, 2024

Meeting of the Council of Cardinals (Vatican Media)

By Alessandro De Carolis
A reflection not 'on women' but 'with' women about their role in the Church marked the topic of reflection and discussions of the Council of Cardinals, especially on June 17, Monday during the first of the two-day work meeting that concluded on june 18, Tuesday, when a religious sister and two university professors gave a series of presentations for the Pope and the C9 Cardinals.

A sister and two professors
The Holy See Press Office issued a communiqué late on Tuesday, 18 June, noting that the speakers were: Sister Linda Pocher, who introduced the addresses; Valentina Rotondi, a professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI)in Lugano and a researcher at Nuffield College specialising in the social sciences at the University of Oxford and the NeuroMI Milan Center for Neuroscience; and Donata Horak, professor of Canon Law at the Alberoni Theological Study in Piacenza, Italy, affiliated with the Pontifical Angelicum University.

The guest speakers
In her talk, the Vatican note reads, Professor Rotondi "highlighted a vision of the economy as care and good management in the context of a profound intergenerational relationship," while for her part Donata Horak pointed out "various antinomies, such as justice and mercy, consultative power and deliberative power, hierarchical principle and ecclesiology of communion, democratisation and monarchical model, in the context of a broader reflection on Canon Law."

Cardinal Ambongo: valuing motherhood in the Church
The speeches also brought about input from the Cardinals present and two of them, at the conclusion of the C9 meeting, shared with Vatican media ideas that emerged on the topic during the meeting. The Cardinal Archbishop of Kinshasa, Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, recalled how yesterday marked the fourth time a discussion on the role of women in the Church had taken place. "Here in the churches more than half of the people who participate in the celebrations are women," but when we see the responsibilities they hold, "they are few," he noted. After all these meetings, he said it had become clear to us that these responsibilities must grow, but, he points out, not in a "militant" sense but solely because, as the Pope says, "the Church is a woman" and there is a "motherhood" that must be valued in the Church community.

Cardinal Gracias: women's leadership in the Church
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bombay, agreed on the importance of a role that needs to be increased. "I come from India and in some areas women have little importance, they are 'second class', and for this reason the Church is working" to give them "the right position in the family, in society, in politics." In the Church, in Canon Law itself "there are many possibilities" for a women's leadership profile in the Church, and my experience has shown me "many times" that women were able to address issues with "a point of view that men had not considered. And I have great hope that this will be developed."

Child protection and world crises
The second and final day of the C9's work on Tuesday continued with reports by Cardinal O'Malley dedicated "to the prospects opened up by the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the area of safeguarding," the Holy See Press Office statement notes. Cardinal Gracias focused on "the activity and the way in which the bishops' conferences operate" in this area. Finally, dicussions focused on "situations in various parts of the world from which the Council's cardinals come, with special attention on conflicts taking place now." The next C9 meeting is scheduled for December 2024.--Vatican News

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