Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE), Canada Continues to Engage the Synodal Process

The Synod on Synodality Process

In 2021, Pope Francis initiated a process to seek global input from Catholics about how we could become a more synodal church. “Synodality” (walking together) requires the participation of all to discern what the Spirit is calling the Catholic Church to be in our time.

After this two-year consultation, a new kind of Synod Assembly occurred in Rome in 2023. For the first time, 20% of participants were non-bishop voting delegates, including women and youth.

CNWE’s Synodal Experience in Rome and Canada: Something New is Being Born

As delegates met inside the Synod Hall, nine CNWE members joined reform-minded Catholics in actions outside the Assembly, raising our voices for women’s equality and an inclusive, accountable Catholic Church.

It became apparent when we met with two of the Canadian women Synod delegates in Rome, that something new was happening at this Synod. The delegates’ experience of roundtable ‘conversations in the Spirit’ (with an emphasis on deep listening, sharing from experience, and prayer) meant that the voices of women, among other marginalized groups, were being heard.

As CNWE member Louise Dowhan from Winnipeg, MB said,

“Being in Rome, as women’s greater participation was discussed in the Vatican Assembly gave me a sense of hope for a renewed way of being church.”

The press coverage of the Synod and reform actions in Rome amplified this message of hope around the world. A blog of CNWE’s Rome experience can be found here.  

In Winnipeg, members and friends of CNWE gathered on October 4 to pray in solidarity with CNWE members in Rome and with all Synod delegates at the grave of former Winnipeg Archbishop Cardinal Flahiff. Cardinal Flahiff advocated for women’s participation in all aspects of ecclesial life, and at a Synod in Rome in 1971, he presented the Canadian bishops’ proposal to open a discussion on the possibility of ordaining women.” Learn more about the Winnipeg event here.

A Call for Co-Responsible Participation in the Work of Synodality

CNWE has been continuing the Synodal conversation by sharing the hope of our Rome experience with Catholic, ecumenical and Roman Catholic Women Priest (RCWP) communities.

CNWE is also embracing synodality by working with new conversation partners: hosting an online gathering with Synod delegate, Sr. Elizabeth Davis in February, and in March, we will partner with Concerned Lay Catholics as part of their ‘Nurturing Synodality Series.

The Synod resources, Synthesis Document “A Synodal Church in Mission” , “Towards 2024” and “Worksheet” invite all members of the church to consider the question: “HOW we can be a Synodal Church in mission?” prior to the 2024 Synod Assembly.

Catholics who have been engaging questions of deep importance in the life of the church (including structural changes to church ministry and governance) must make good and urgent use of this interim period between Synodal Assemblies.

CNWE welcomes the challenge of working toward a church that incarnates in word, action and structures, the radical equality, inclusion, and love of Christ.

We hope that Canadian Synod delegates, clergy and bishops will join with CNWE and all Catholic individuals and groups by planning concrete opportunities for robust, inclusive dialogue at local, regional, and national levels. May this ‘something new’ in the life of our Church be guided by the Spirit to grow and flourish in our time.

Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE) and Concerned Lay Catholics (CLC) Collaborate to Nurture Synodality!

On the afternoon of Sunday March 3, reform-minded Catholics are invited to join CNWE and CLC for a conversation about the Synod on Synodality in relation to the work for women’s equality in the Catholic Church. Please plan to join the conversation for an early celebration of International Women’s Day!
Please click here to register:

Video: Synod Discussion on Zoom with Sister Elizabeth Davis

Sr. Elizabeth Davis (RSM), was one of 54 women voting members at the historic “Synod on Synodality” at the Vatican from October 4-29, 2023.  In this recording of her January 17 presentation, for which 300 persons registered, she speaks of her experience of being a Synod member, some challenges/opportunities she sees for Catholics world wide, some implications of being “a synodal church in mission”, and her sense of urgency in the importance of Catholics engaging the process more deeply, prior to the next session of the Synod in October 2024.

This Zoom was inspired by the example of nine members of the Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE) who also went to Rome in October 2023, participated in a “Synod outside the walls”, and met with Elizabeth at that time.

The Zoom was actualized through a unique collaboration among the Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE-Western region), Reseau Compassion Network (RCN), the Grey Nuns of Montreal (SGM), and the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions (RNDM).

May this video help all of us discern how we can further participate in the process of becoming a Synodal church.

CNWE Welcomes Vatican Declaration that Approves Blessings for Same-Gender Couples

Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE), Canada welcomes the Vatican declaration (December 18) approving blessings for same-gender couples. The document, “Fiducia Supplicans: On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings” from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith is a significant and positive shift toward a more inclusive and welcoming Church.

The essence of blessing in a biblical, theological and liturgical sense is an expression of God’s limitless love and is not for Church teaching to withhold. Permitting the blessing of same-gender relationships is a long overdue affirmation that moves the Church toward the full recognition of the God-given dignity and equality of 2SLGBTQ+ persons.

This change is due in large part to the decades-long advocacy of 2SLGBTQ+ Catholics and the groundswell of voices for inclusion that have been raised during the synodal consultations of the last two years. It reflects a level of trust in the authority of the people of God to call the Church hierarchy to love as the greatest good.

As CNWE works toward the equality of women in the Catholic Church, we stand in solidarity with all who remain marginalized by Catholic church teaching and practice. As we celebrate this declaration, we look forward to the continued transformation of the structures of the Church through the synodal process, so that the hope of Pope Francis and Catholics around the world for all – “todos, todos, todos,” – to be welcomed and find their home in the widening tent of the Church as whole persons, blessed and beloved of God.


Video: Solidarity with CNWE in Rome

CNWE members in Canada participated in the Synod in Rome, through prayer, intention and action.  Members were encouraged to take a photo of themselves in solidarity, and Sr. Giang Pham put those photos and reflections together, into this 7 minute video on YouTube: