The Church's Radical Reform podcast

After the Vatican synod: what happens now?

15 Sekunden vorwärts
15 Sekunden vorwärts

The 2023 synod summit in the Vatican ended with a series of openings for reform, including on the role of women, training of priests and a re-think of the church’s sexual teaching. 

For those in the hall, a vast majority agreed that the synod process and style — which saw cardinals and lay people gathered around tables listening to each other — is how church business should be done in the future. 

But what happens next? Synod 2023 is the first of two assemblies, with another due in October 2024. 

In this episode, I talk again to Myriam Wijlens, who took part in the synod as an expert adviser. Professor Wijlens, a theologian and canon lawyer who has been closely involved in the synod process, stressed a general agreement that women need an enlarged role in the church but a “struggle” over how this should happen in practice. The question of women deacons is to be further studied, and Wijlens said a “conclusion” to the discussion over the possibility of women deacons could take place at the synod next year. 

Professor Wijlens teaches at the University of Erfurt in Germany. She said that the new synod process marks a “tremendous shift”, which gave everyone the same amount of time to speak, whether they were an Asian woman or a European cardinal. 

“There was a general agreement: we have to attend to this question [of women]”, she said. “And there was a great agreement that women do make up the larger portion of active participants in the life of the Church. And then there comes a struggle because we all come from different cultures and from different backgrounds. How does that unfold in real life, on the ground?”  

Professor Wijlens points out that a critical challenge is implementing synodality at the local level. But it can no longer be a question of waiting for the authorities in Rome about what to do. 

“How can Rome say what you have to do in the inner city of London and in the inner city of Manila or the countryside of Alaska at the same time,” she said. It is up to bishops and local leaders to “take up your own responsibility” and implement synodal reforms in their local areas. 

The Church’s Radical Reform podcast is sponsored by the Centre for Catholic Studies at the University of Durham in partnership with The Tablet. 

Producer: Silvia Sacco

Editor: Jamie Weston 

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