"The situation of women in the Church is absolutely contrary to the Gospel", claims Synodalist

She will become the first Spaniard in the history of the Church who will be able to vote in a Synod. "I feel a great responsibility, I don't think in terms of distinction"

An earlier presentation on YouTube- subtitled

Throughout this month of October, the Vatican hosts a historic event that can lay the foundations for significantly changing the way in which the Catholic Church is understood (and perceived). Pope Francis has brought together 365 people there, in a world synod where until now only bishops had the right to participate. 75%, bishops. Many, no doubt, but the novelty of the remaining 25% is revolutionary from an ecclesial point of view: Bergoglio has opened the door and given the right to voice and vote to the laity, among them, 54 women, the true basis of the institution ecclesial, given that they are, according to estimates, 70% of its members. Of this last group, Francisco has personally chosen five. Cristina Inogés, theologian and laywoman, is one of them and will become the first Spaniard in the history of the Church who will be able to vote in an event of these characteristics. "I feel a great responsibility, I do not think in terms of distinction. Rather I think of that genealogy of women who have preceded us and who tried to ensure that women were recognized in the Church - some of them cost them their lives - and whose conviction and effort has allowed others to continue believing that it was possible. And it was my turn," he points out in this interview, where he also warns of the obstacles that some try to put in place for this Synod to derail it.

Q How to explain to a secularized society what this Synod is? 

A The Church was born synodal and laical. The secular aspect was lost very soon, as soon as the figures of the bishop and the priest were sacralized. The synodal thing lasted much longer, but it ended up being lost in the Late Middle Ages, when clericalism, whose consequences we continue to live with, appeared in full force. This Synod recovers that habitual practice of the Church that Saint Cyprian, in the 3rd century, explained very clearly: "What affects everyone in the Church must be decided and approved by everyone." 

(Cathcon: Saint Ambrose was talking about Bishops and relates to the Spring Council of Carthage in 256)  

On the other hand, it is a call to reflect on structures that have allowed us to reach the current situation and that have made many people leave the Church, who had the need to leave a space that suffocates due to its rigidity, which is quite the opposite. to the gospel. 

Q. Is it the closest thing the Church has to a democratic assembly? 

A. It is not a democratic assembly in the sense that we understand in civil life: it is a space for mutual listening, where the Spirit is also listened to (some may doubt it, but in this Synod he is speaking loudly and very clearly), and from that moment on, consensus is reached (nothing to do with the political spectacle we are experiencing), where what everyone has said is taken into account. There is nothing more to see than the Intrumentum laboris, which is the document that collects everything that has come out among the participants in the preparatory phase of the Synod - all over the world -, where not a single issue has been left out, no matter how thorny it may be. it would seem. People with very different theological and pastoral trajectories and positions will work with this document to reach consensus. And let no one think that "we are condemned to understand each other", but rather "invited to listen to each other". On the other hand, in the Church voting is done on many occasions: the pope is elected by voting, the presidents of the episcopal conferences are elected by voting; to the abbots and abbesses too... We have to get rid of that certain fear or suspicion of some words. In any case, the important thing is not to throw anyone out of the Church. There is room for everyone.

Q. Why has Francis called an assembly like this one, which, furthermore, has been developing from the base since 2021 and will last, in its final phase, for two consecutive years in Rome? 

A. Francisco has not summoned it because he wanted to. It is part of the protocol—understood as order—of a Synod. What he has done is, for the first time in history, open it to all the people of God, because baptism makes us all equal in the Church. And giving voice and vote to people who are not bishops, including women (let's see when we can stop specifying this!), responds to that, to baptismal logic. For the first time, a voice has been given to people who have never been heard, to people who, as I said in the opening meditation, we had kicked out of the Church or prevented from accessing it, and we did not miss them. For all of us, as a Church, it is crucial to listen to these people. And, something very important:e: Francis has not only given a voice to those who were on the margins and even the border of the Church, but he has also given a voice in the previous processes to people of other confessions and religions, non-believers... In short, it is about live a process in which we learn as a Church to stop looking at our navel and be clear that we are the path, not the goal. 

Q. What are the highlights you will be discussing this month? 

A. I would highlight communion in the context of interculturality, because unity is not based on uniformity, and the experience of that communion, not only in the Church, but of living it as a common union in civil society in the search for solutions to common problems. I would also highlight co-responsibility because, to be honest, many times the laity have lived waiting for everything to be done for them, and that cannot be. And, of course, the reality of women in the Church, because we cannot continue talking about the issue of women, since we are not an issue or a single model of women that is marked by cultural, economic, social differences... Our situation in the Church is absolutely contrary to the gospel. We are subject to baptismal rights and duties the same as men. The reality of LGTBIQ+ people will also have to be analyzed, because many of them are as Catholic as anyone else. However, in this issue we will have to add the LGTBIQ+ reality that is already within the Church because, let no one be fooled, there are religious men and women, priests, bishops, cardinals who are LGTBIQ+ and many of them live in fear of that their sexual-affective condition is known. You have to help them, because you cannot live in fear all your life. "There are religious men and women, priests, bishops, cardinals who are LGTBIQ+ and many of them live in fear" Other issues are training in seminaries, not only academic, and the same in religious life; the reality of abuses of all kinds in the Church... I invite you to read the Instrumentum laboris, which can be downloaded on the Synod website, so that you can see that they are all very important. Q. This synodal process has already achieved some milestones, such as the effective participation of the laity. In fact, it will be the first time in the history of the Church that women participate and can also vote, something until now only reserved for bishops. What does this shift in co-responsibility suggest to you? A. It suggests to me evangelical and baptismal normality which, on the other hand, is not well seen or valued by everyone. We are talking about the co-responsibility to which baptism calls us, which makes us all equal and, as Francis says, "no one is baptized bishop or cardinal, we are all baptized laymen." Well, by virtue of this equality and baptismal co-responsibility, the shift in participation is understood. 

Q. You have been directly appointed by the Pope. How does she feel about a distinction that makes her the first Spanish woman to vote in a Synod? 

A. I don't know how or what Francisco decided to appoint me. It was difficult for me to believe that the appointment was true, because I knew that the Spanish bishops would not pass my name on the list of suggestions. I feel a great responsibility, I do not think in terms of distinction and, even less so, about being the first Spanish woman who will be able to vote in a Synod. I think about that genealogy of women who have preceded us and who tried to ensure that women were recognized in the Church - it cost some their lives - and whose conviction and effort has allowed others to continue believing that it was possible. And she touched me.

 Q. Many expectations have been raised around this Synod, where the role of women within the Church will be discussed, the reception of the LGTBI+ community, the ordination of married men, a greater role for the laity in the government of the Church …Can so many expectations be disappointed? A. A small point. In the Church no one has a role, including women. We all have a place, which baptism gives us. The role is given by whoever believes they have enough power to tell you what you can do, where, and how far you can go. Forgetting about the role and prioritizing the place is helping to put limits on the clericalism that we suffer from the clergy and some lay people who repeat these forms of behavior. Since the Synod began, I have said that no one expects a synodal Church at the end of it. It is true that the Synod itself is already the launch of a synodal Church. But, taking into account that time in the Church is very, very slow, that the reality of the synodal Church depends on everyone, that there are many obstacles and many people dedicated to hindering the process (bishops, priests, and laymen), and that certain proposed changes are going to squeak in the ears of many people who, unaware of the process and what it entails, are going to listen to the prophets of calamities more than to the Spirit, that no one feels disappointed in November 2024 when the Synod ends . The changes are not going to come suddenly. At this moment, the most important thing is to have at hand the synthesis that came out in each diocese and that was approved in the diocesan assembly. What was approved by everyone there must begin to be implemented. That's where the changes will come, from below. It is true that there are bishops who have already dismantled the synodal structure with which they worked in the diocesan phase and there is no trace of the Synod. It's very disappointing. However, everyone's co-responsibility comes in here and, with good manners, we must ask that what was approved by everyone be put into operation. There is nothing wrong with wanting to talk to the bishop of the diocese and remind him that there is a diocesan synthesis approved in the assembly, ready to be launched. If the request is not met, you should not stop insisting. We lay people have a voice and, now, ways to be heard. 

Q. You would be disappointed if at the end of this first meeting in October no progress was made in… A. In listening to us. Listening to each other is essential, because it allows us to get to know each other and breaks down prejudices, which are the worst walls. It would be the most disappointing because it would mean that in these two years we have not learned much and that prejudices are still present. It would be very, very disappointing. "Listening to each other is essential, because it allows us to know each other and breaks down prejudices, which are the worst walls" 

Q. Why do some insist that this Synod can cause a schism? 

A. Francis' great sin is having put the gospel at the center of the Church; having placed it above the law and the norm; give more weight to mercy than to punishment; give priority to the fact that everyone fits, over the selection – not at all natural – claimed by some; opening doors instead of closing them; make us see that God is in life, not just locked up in the Church; make us see that Tradition is as alive as life itself; that a 'no' cannot be either the first or the last word; that we do not have to be afraid to live the freedom of the Spirit; that we are not a Church of perfect people, because we are paschal beings and, therefore, we are becoming and staining ourselves along the way; get excited again about being, and for being, all members of the people of God... Some of these questions will come up in the Assembly, but the Assembly is not the Pope... 

Q. Is there a danger of going backwards, of Francis's reforms being frozen? once he is gone? 

A. History, both civil and ecclesiastical, shows us that the law of the pendulum works. That reality is there and, I repeat, because it must be said, there are people very determined that the Synod not go ahead. It is also true that, now, many are seeing and living that we can change and we will not be worse than we are. However, the Spirit always finds cracks to sneak through, even in the Church. And, just as they tried for years to stop Vatican II and, now, this Synod is another phase of the implementation of that council, the breath, the impetus and, many times, the apparent silence of the Spirit, will be there, piercing the granite rock of intransigence, rigidity and, ultimately, the fear of some, who continue to think that the Church stands by ourselves. Naive...



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