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The Vatican is reconsidering its role in 'the modern world,' and women will get to vote

A photo shows a Catholic church steep.
Scott Canon
Kansas News Service

For the first time, Women and laypeople will be represented as delegates at the Synod of Bishops, where they will help Pope Francis in deciding the direction of the Catholic Church.

The Synod of Bishops, a major gathering of the Roman Catholic Church in the Vatican, will meet next month. For the first time, women and non-clergy will be able to vote. is also the first major meeting since Pope Francis decried some American Catholics for being “reactionary” and “backwards.”

Christopher White, a Vatican correspondent with the National Catholic Reporter, based in Kansas City, said those comments characterize the issue the Pope has had with some American Catholic sects since he was elected in 2013.

White says that a small but vocal group of Catholics oppose some of Francis' reformist ideas.

“I do think the flavor of American Catholicism is particularly infiltrated by politics,” White says. “I think that's a large part of his message, to try to tease out what is supposed to be the realm of the state and what is the realm of the church.”

White says the Synod of Bishops, where about 450 delegates will meet in the Vatican, will address how the church can better listen to its members and reexamine the structures of the church — like women in the clergy and the shortage of priests.

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