Pope Francis released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for October, the missionary month, in which he calls for the promotion of greater integration of the lay faithful, especially women, in areas of responsibility in the Church.
In his prayer intention for October 2020, Pope Francis asked everyone to pray that women be given greater leadership roles in the Church.
It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month.
This month, the video is a collaboration with the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. It highlights the role of the laity, whom Pope Francis considers true protagonists in the proclamation of the Gospel.
In the video, the pope asks especially that women be given participation in “areas of responsibility in the Church” because they “tend to be left aside.”
Over his pontificate, Pope Francis has taken many actions to give momentum to this desire to give women greater weight in the Church. The Pope’s Evangelii gaudium reads:
“Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded” (104).
Father Frédéric Fornos S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, observes that “since 2013, much has been accomplished, but more needs to be done.”
Father Fornos also points out that “by virtue of Baptism, we are all called to faithfully proclaim and serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be missionary disciples of the Lord. Nonetheless, among the lay faithful, women have been consciously and unconsciously relegated to an inferior level. As Francis reminded us in Querida Amazonia, many women, moved by the Holy Spirit, keep the Church alive in many parts of the world with remarkable devotion and deep faith. It’s essential that they participate more and more in areas where decisions are made. This requires a profound change of mentality; it requires our conversion, which implies prayer.”
Full text of the prayer intention:
No one has been baptized a priest or a bishop. We have all been baptized as lay people.
Lay people are protagonists of the Church.
Today, it is especially necessary to create broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church.
And we must emphasize the feminine lay presence because women tend to be left aside.
We must promote the integration of women, especially where important decisions are made.
We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church, without falling into forms of clericalism that diminish the lay charism.