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Inside the VaticanApril 28, 2023
sr nathalie becquart speaks to a male journalist sitting at a table, sr nathalie gesture with her hand and the journalist watches as she speaks, taking notesXavière Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, speaks to Iacopo Scaramuzzi, a reporter for La Repubblica, in the Vatican press office April 26, 2023. The Vatican had just announced Pope Francis' decision to have women and laymen as voting members of the synod. (CNS photo/Cindy Wooden)  

Pope Francis announced on Monday, April 24, that all the participants at the first assembly of Synod on Synodality will have a vote when they meet at the Vatican this October. This is the first time women will have a vote at such a major church event.

“More than 20 percent of the participants will be non-bishops,” says Gerry. “This can be priests, it can be consecrated women and men, it can be lay women and men.”

The announcement of the change to the synod’s voting pattern happened just days before Pope Francis visits Hungary on an official state visit. On arrival, he will honor his diplomatic commitments, meeting with government officials and various dignitaries, among them Katalin Novák, the country’s first female president. He is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who, aside from being “the longest-serving prime minister in Europe,” Gerry says, is also “a close ally of Vladimir Putin in Russia.”

“We are seeing the pope try every which way to get the message across to Vladimir Putin,” Ricardo says, “about the importance of coming to the table and dialoguing on the issues in the war between Ukraine and Russia.”

While in Hungary, the pope will also take the opportunity to exercise his role as pastor to the worldwide Catholic Church. He will meet with young people, refugees and some of the most impoverished people in the land, but he also plans to meet with the Jesuits who minister in this landlocked central European country.

In the second half of this week’s show, Ricardo and Gerry discuss a new controversy that was sparked after remarks made in a speech by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, led some to suggest that the church has drastically changed its position on euthanasia and medically assisted suicide.

But it appears that Archbishop Paglia’s “comments were misconstrued,” Ricardo says. “He is clearly feeding into this highly charged debate in Italian parliament… He is worried that any implications or any changes to the law will have implications on the church’s defense of life… its moral teaching on the sanctity of life, dignity, and care for the human person.”

Finally, Gerry talks about Pope Francis’ revelation in an interview for La Nación, the leading Argentine newspaper, that he has asked Archbishop Georg Gänswein to leave his residence at the Vatican, and either find alternative lodgings in Italy or return to his native Germany. “Some might read this eviction as a kind of retribution from Pope Francis for the polemical things written in his book,” Ricardo says—a claim that Gerry refutes. “Benedict died in the end of December; we are now almost at the beginning of May,” Gerry says. “Six months to change houses? Not exactly an offense to anybody.”

Links from the show

Pope Francis announces all synod participants will vote at the upcoming synod

Pope Francis prepares for weekend papal visit to Hungary

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia comments on assisted suicide

Archbishop Georg Gänswein is asked to leave the Vatican

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