Pope Francis’ cardinal advisers heard a testimony from a Franciscan sister from the Brazilian Amazon this week as the council continues to discuss the role of women in the Church.
The Holy See press office said on April 28 that the pope met with his council of advisers for a three-day meeting in Rome, which included a report from Sister Laura Vicuña, an indigenous woman and religious sister, who offered “a pastoral perspective” on the topic of women in the Church.
Vicuña previously participated in the Amazon synod in 2019 and is a member of the recently created Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon (CEAMA). The sister has been advocating for indigenous rights for years.
After her report was delivered, “a debate ensued between the council and the presenter,” according to the Vatican.
The pope’s Council of Cardinals has been discussing the role of women in the Church since February, when the cardinals heard and commented on a report by a female theologian.
Pope Francis has asked two commissions to study the question of a female diaconate in the Catholic Church. The second commission was instituted in 2020 following discussion of women deacons during the 2019 Amazon synod.
In addition to the role of women, the cardinals also reflected on the war in Ukraine and its consequences for politics, the Church, and ecumenical relations.
“The Holy Father reported on the various initiatives undertaken by him, the Secretary of State and the Secretariat of State to pursue peace,” the Holy See communique said, noting that the cardinals encouraged the pope to continue “his tireless work for the solution of the ongoing conflict.”
Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, U.S. Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, and Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu took part in the April 25-27 meeting at the Casa Santa Marta, the pope’s residence.
Cardinal Ambongo spoke about concerns in poorer countries over climate change and asked how the Church can give voice to these in light of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt in November.
The group of cardinal advisers, sometimes referred to as the C9 because it previously had nine members, was established by Pope Francis in 2013 to “assist him in the governance of the universal Church,” as well as to revise the text of the 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.
The council’s meeting this week was the first since the promulgation of the new apostolic constitution Predicate evangelium in March. The drafting and revising of the document to reform the Roman Curia was a key task of the council from 2014 onward.
During the meeting, the cardinals made suggestions for the implementation of the reform and scheduled their next meeting for June, when the constitution comes into force.