The Council of Cardinals known as the “C9” is holding its meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican to reflect on “the role of women in the Church.”
Three women also participated in the meeting, which began on Monday, February 5, and ended this morning. Among them, the presence of a Female Bishop of the Anglican communion stands out.
She is Jo Bailey Wells, assistant general secretary of the Anglican Communion who was part of the first generation of women ordained vicars in the Church of England in 1995. She is married to an Anglican clergyman and is the mother of two children.
Wells is also known for her advocacy for “gender equality,” and for having led an interfaith meeting attended by Pope Francis in Kazakhstan in October 2022. She has also been chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Also present at the meeting with the Cardinal advisors of the Holy Father were Giuliva di Berardino, a consecrated woman from the Ordo virginum of the Diocese of Verona (Italy), and Linda Pocher, a teacher at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium, who already participated in the last meeting in 2023.
In this recent session, like the one held in December 2023, the members of the Council delved deeper into the topic of the presence of women in the Church.
During the December meeting, the Pontiff invited theologians to reflect on the Church as “woman and wife” and affirmed that “one of the sins committed” has been the tendency to “masculinize the Church.”
The Members of the “C9”
The members of the so-called “C9” are Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State; Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo); Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay (India); Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston (United States).
Also belonging to this group are Cardinal Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona (Spain); Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec (Canada); Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg; Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, Archbishop of San Salvador de Bahía (Brazil). The secretary of the Commission is Mons. Marco Mellino, Titular Bishop of Cresima (Tunisia).
It should be noted that Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), has become one of the main voices that have been raised against Fiducia supplicans, the document of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith that allows the blessing of individuals of homosexual and irregular couples.
Meanwhile, as part of a lawsuit against his Archdiocese, Cardinal Gérald Lacroix has recently been accused of abusing a 17-year-old teenager almost four decades ago, something that the cardinal “categorically” denies.
The Council of Cardinals
The Council of Cardinals, or C9, is the group of cardinals that collaborates directly with Pope Francis in the government of the Church. It has its origin in the general congregations that preceded the conclave in which Pope Francis was elected.
The council has been in operation since September 2013, only six months after Pope Francis assumed the Petrine ministry.
Its objective is to help the Pontiff “in the government of the universal Church," as well as “to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus,” as expressed by Pope Francis.
This article was originally written for ACI PRENSA.
Almudena Martínez-Bordiú is a Spanish journalist and correspondent for ACI Prensa in Rome and the Vatican, with three years of experience in religious information. She has a double degree in Journalism and Advertising from San Pablo CEU University in Madrid. She has a passion for investigative journalism and for telling stories in a close way.