Vatican City. On 4 and 5 December 2023, a session of the Council of Cardinals was held at Casa Santa Marta in Vatican City. “At the center of the reflection” – reports the statement of the Vatican Press Office – “was the theme of the role of women in the Church”.
Sister Linda Pocher, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, Professor of Christology and Mariology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Science of Education «Auxilium» in Rome, already spoke at the February 2022 session on the role of women and the “Marian principle” in the Church.
In addition to her, Lucia Vantini, who teaches Fundamental Theology, Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophy of Knowledge at the Institute of Religious Sciences in Verona, contributed to the reflection Philosophical and Theological anthropology at Studio San Zeno in Verona and Philosophy of dialogue at the San Bernardino Institute of Ecumenical Studies in Venice; and Luca Castiglioni, priest of the Diocese of Milan and professor of fundamental Theology at the Seminary of Milan.
“Lucia Vantini and Luca Castiglioni presented a critical rereading of the thought of H. U. von Balthasar on the Marian and Petrine principle of the Church”, while Sister Linda “offered a biblical meditation on the presence and role of Mary and the female disciples in the first Christian community.”
As the Press Release points out, “The Council agreed on the need to listen, also and especially in individual Christian communities, to the feminine trait of the Church, so that the processes of reflection and decision-making can enjoy the irreplaceable contribution of women.”
The theme is in line with the Synthesis Report of the First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “A Synodal Church in Mission” in which an entire chapter – No. 9 of Part II (All disciples, all missionaries) – is dedicated to “Women in the life and mission of the Church”.
From the first session of the Assembly, in which participants “experienced the beauty of reciprocity between women and men,” issues emerged to be addressed, such as “the request for greater recognition and appreciation of the contribution of women” – who “constitute the majority of those who attend churches and are often the first missionaries of faith in the family” – and proposals, including encouragement to local Churches “to extend their service of listening, accompaniment, and care to women who are more marginalized in different social contexts”.
Sister Linda Pocher affirms, “I feel a great responsibility for this ecclesial service that I have been asked and that I have prepared especially in prayer. The Cardinals belonging to the Pope’s Council represent the Church in her different cultures and sensibilities, the whole Church listening.” – and invites us to continue to support this journey with prayer. “It is very important to continue to accompany this exercise of listening with prayer, because the synodal process is not finished; indeed, it can be said that it has just begun”.