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Women urge Pope Francis for Church voting rights

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Catholic nuns of the Missionaries of Charity kneel during the wake for Cardinal Jaime Ortega at the Cathedral of Havana, in Havana, Cuba July 26, 2019. REUTERS/Fernando Medina

Catholic nuns taking part in a three-week Vatican assembly on the Amazon have urged Pope Francis to allow them to vote on the final document Saturday.

A green light from Francis would be a historic first. The Vatican has not publicly responded to the request, but an expert said it would be unusual for voting rules to be changed once the assembly, or “synod”, was underway.

Only “synod fathers” — bishops, cardinals and specially-appointed male representatives — are allowed to vote on the final document, which brings together a list of recommendations submitted to the pope.

Francis will take those recommendations into consideration when he draws up his own document in the coming months.

There are 184 bishops or cardinals with voting rights taking part — nearly two-thirds of whom come from the Pan-Amazon region, which covers nine Latin American countries.

The meeting, which ends Sunday, has also been attended by non-voting observers, auditors and experts, including 35 women.

Ecuadorian nun Ines Azucena Zambrano Jara said Friday a letter had been sent to the pontiff.

She told journalists at a press briefing that the women took an active part in the synod, with some of them defining themselves as “synod mothers”.

Specialized site Religion Digital said the 35 women had signed a petition calling for the right to vote.

The synod fathers will vote later Saturday on each paragraph in the document.

Francis bent the rules at a previous synod in 2018, allowing two lay men to vote in their capacity as superiors general of their religious orders.

There have been calls for the pontiff to extend the right to female superiors general.


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