Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE), Canada Continues to Engage the Synodal Process

The Synod on Synodality Process

In 2021, Pope Francis initiated a process to seek global input from Catholics about how we could become a more synodal church. “Synodality” (walking together) requires the participation of all to discern what the Spirit is calling the Catholic Church to be in our time.

After this two-year consultation, a new kind of Synod Assembly occurred in Rome in 2023. For the first time, 20% of participants were non-bishop voting delegates, including women and youth.

CNWE’s Synodal Experience in Rome and Canada:
Something New is Being Born

As delegates met inside the Synod Hall, nine CNWE members joined reform-minded Catholics in actions outside the Assembly, raising our voices for women’s equality and an inclusive, accountable Catholic Church.

It became apparent when we met with two of the Canadian women Synod delegates in Rome, that something new was happening at this Synod. The delegates’ experience of roundtable ‘conversations in the Spirit’ (with an emphasis on deep listening, sharing from experience, and prayer) meant that the voices of women, among other marginalized groups, were being heard.

As CNWE member Louise Dowhan from Winnipeg, MB said,

“Being in Rome, as women’s greater participation was discussed in the Vatican Assembly gave me a sense of hope for a renewed way of being church.”

The press coverage of the Synod and reform actions in Rome amplified this message of hope around the world. A blog of CNWE’s Rome experience can be found here 

In Winnipeg, members and friends of CNWE gathered on October 4 to pray in solidarity with CNWE members in Rome and with all Synod delegates at the grave of former Winnipeg Archbishop Cardinal Flahiff. Cardinal Flahiff advocated for women’s participation in all aspects of ecclesial life, and at a Synod in Rome in 1971, he presented the Canadian bishops’ proposal to open a discussion on the possibility of ordaining women.” Learn more about the Winnipeg event here.

A Call for Co-Responsible Participation in the Work of Synodality

CNWE has been continuing the Synodal conversation by sharing the hope of our Rome experience with Catholic, ecumenical and Roman Catholic Women Priest (RCWP) communities.

CNWE is also embracing synodality by working with new conversation partners: hosting an online gathering with Synod delegate, Sr. Elizabeth Davis in February, and in March, we will partner with Concerned Lay Catholics as part of their ‘Nurturing Synodality Series.

The Synod resources, Synthesis Document “A Synodal Church in Mission” , “Towards 2024” and “Worksheet” invite all members of the church to consider the question: “HOW we can be a Synodal Church in mission?” prior to the 2024 Synod Assembly.

Catholics who have been engaging questions of deep importance in the life of the church (including structural changes to church ministry and governance) must make good and urgent use of this interim period between Synodal Assemblies.

CNWE welcomes the challenge of working toward a church that incarnates in word, action and structures, the radical equality, inclusion, and love of Christ.

We hope that Canadian Synod delegates, clergy and bishops will join with CNWE and all Catholic individuals and groups by planning concrete opportunities for robust, inclusive dialogue at local, regional, and national levels. May this ‘something new’ in the life of our Church be guided by the Spirit to grow and flourish in our time.