UN Representative Says Catholic Church Still Behind on Gender Equality at Amazon Synod

Pope Francis speaks during the opening session of the Amazon synod, at the Vatican, on Oct. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

A United Nations representative for the rights of indigenous peoples who is participating in the Catholic bishops synod on the Amazon said Tuesday (Oct. 8) that the church still has a ways to go in terms of women’s representation.

Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, criticized the lack of female representation at the synod, which began Sunday at the Vatican and continues through Oct. 27.

Only a handful of indigenous women are there, she noted in an interview with Religion News Service. “Some of them are young — that’s good — but of course it’s still dominantly men.

“I think it’s a problem,” she said. “The church really needs to realize the importance of equality between genders, in the church and outside the church.”

At the summit, 185 male participants are attending and have the right to vote on the proceedings. Another 80 people, including 35 lay and religious women, are allowed to participate but are unable to vote. Seventeen representatives of indigenous populations are also attending, including nine women.

Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz speaks at the Vatican on
Oct. 8, 2019. RNS photo by Claire Giangravé

Tauli-Corpuz is an indigenous leader from the Kankana-ey Igorot people in the Philippines and has a decades-long career in promoting the rights of indigenous communities and women. She has participated in several conferences on the Amazon region alongside church representatives in the past year and is among the experts invited to attend the Vatican synod of bishops.

Her comments come at a time when the Vatican is addressing differing solutions as to how to better minister and evangelize to the indigenous communities in the Amazon. Proposals have just started to circulate in the closed-off halls of the synod, addressing issues ranging from better formation for seminarians, pastors and laypeople to the possibility of ordaining married men to cater to isolated communities.

During a news conference at the Vatican on Tuesday, Paolo Ruffini, prefect for the Vatican’s communication departments, presented a summary of what the bishops are addressing.

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Source: Religion News Service