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Lay Votes at Catholic Synod will Help Reshape Decision-Making in the Church Says LGBTQ+ Catholic Group

April 26, 2023. DignityUSA celebrates the Vatican’s announcement that 70 lay people will be voting members of the global Synod process, ending the centuries-long exclusion of Catholic laity from helping to shape key aspects of church governance and direction.

“The global Synod is an effort to engage the universal church in addressing what Catholicism looks like as we move into a rapidly changing world,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA Executive Director. “Having lay people—people who represent the vast majority of Catholics—actually voting on key Synod documents is a long-awaited recognition that lay people must have a voice in major decisions within our church. Getting to this point is the result of decades of advocacy among many Catholic individuals and groups who have pressed for greater accountability from Church leaders and for a redefinition of authority within our church.

“We need to be clear: today’s announcement does not mean equality has been achieved,” said Duddy-Burke. “The reality is that 80% of Synod votes will still be cast by the all-male cadre of bishops. But giving lay people voting rights is an unprecedented step and has opened a window that cannot easily be closed. This is a moment to pause, to celebrate, and then to figure out what the next step can be.”

The 70 voting representatives will be chosen from among 140 people nominated by the continental regional groups, comprised of bishops from major areas of the world. Duddy-Burke noted that ensuring that representing the diversity of Catholics will be a challenge.

“Because it is bishops making these nominations, we need to keep pressing church officials to ensure that traditionally marginalized people are represented among the voting laity. Of course, we urge that openly LGBTQ+ people be among the voting delegates. DignityUSA and other progressive Catholic groups have issued a letter calling on the US and Canadian bishops to promote the voices of women, LGBTQIA+ persons, Black and Indigenous Catholics, young Catholics, divorced and remarried Catholics, victims of clergy sexual abuse, people with disabilities, and those who have sought or received abortion care,” said Duddy-Burke.


DignityUSA is the world’s oldest organization of Catholics working for justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in our church and society. Founded in 1969, it has members and supporters across the U.S.