|Yesterday, the Vatican released the working document (Instrumentum Laboris) for October's Amazonian Synod, with several lines relating to women and ministry. In particular, the document suggests identifying the type of "official ministry that can be given to women," and recovering aspects of the early Church, where women's charisms and gifts were recognized. It also asks that the voices of women be heard, and states that women should participate in decision-making processes.|
While the Amazonian Synod is meant to discuss the challenges and hopes of that region, the urgent pastoral needs of the regional communities are not dissimilar from the rest of the Church: How do we as a Church care for one another and creation? How do we empower local voices and ministries? How do we model Jesus in challenging times?
The headlines from yesterday focus on the discussion on indigenous elders - married men - being ordained to provide the sacraments in regions with a shortage of priests. While we applaud greater access to the Eucharist and the opportunity for all people to answer their call, the continued exclusion of women from ordained ministries is not a solution.
There is hope in this document, and moreover, a challenge for the institutional Church to recognize what is already happening on the ground: Women are ministering to the People of God. If we are to "look for the helpers," as Mister Rogers liked to say, amidst the failures and disasters of our institution, we must look for and empower women. And as the Synod prepares to convene in October, we say: Give them a vote, too.