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Female Anglican bishop participates in meeting with pope’s Council of Cardinals

Pope Francis meets with the Council of Cardinals on Feb. 5, 2024, at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, Feb 6, 2024 / 15:55 pm (CNA).

The pope’s Council of Cardinals concluded a meeting at the Vatican this morning with Pope Francis to reflect on “the role of women in the Church.”

Three women also participated in the Feb. 5-6 meeting, notably including a female Anglican bishop, Jo Bailey Wells.

Wells is deputy general secretary of the Anglican Communion and was part of the first generation of women ordained vicars in the Church of England in 1995. She is currently married to an Anglican clergyman and is the mother of two children.

Wells is also known for her advocacy of “gender equality” and for having led an interfaith meeting attended by Pope Francis in Kazakhstan in October 2022. She has also been chaplain to the archbishop of Canterbury.

Also present at the meeting with the cardinal advisers of the Holy Father were Giuliva di Berardino, a consecrated woman of the Ordo Virginum (“Order of Virgins”) of the Diocese of Verona, Italy, and Linda Pocher, a teacher at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences “Auxilium” who previously participated in the last meeting in 2023.

In this most recent session, like the one held in December 2023, the members of the council delved deeper into the topic of the presence of women in the Church.

During the 2023 meeting, the pontiff invited theologians to reflect on the Church as “woman and spouse” and said that “one of the sins committed” has been the tendency to “masculinize the Church.”

The Council of Cardinals, also known as “C9” for its nine members, is the group of cardinals that collaborates directly with Pope Francis in the government of the Church. It has its origin in the general congregations that preceded the conclave in which Pope Francis was elected.

The C9 group has been functioning since September 2013, just six months after Pope Francis assumed the Petrine ministry.

Its objective is to help the pontiff “in the government of the universal Church” as well as to work on a revision of the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, which governs the Roman Curia, as Pope Francis has stated.

The members of C9 are Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India; Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston; Cardinal Juan José Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, archbishop of Quebec, Canada; Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg; and Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, archbishop of San Salvador de Bahía, Brazil. The secretary of the council is Marco Mellino, titular bishop of Cresima, Tunisia.

Ambongo, president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), has become one of the main voices raised against Fiducia Supplicans, the Dec. 18, 2023, document of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith that allows the blessing of homosexual couples.

Lacroix has recently been accused of abusing a 17-year-old girl almost four decades ago as part of a lawsuit against his archdiocese. The cardinal “categorically” denies the allegation.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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