The biggest change announced Wednesday was the removal of the “auditor” role. In past synods, auditors included priests, religious, and laypeople, who did not have the right to vote in synod deliberations.
Now, these 70 members, who may be priests, consecrated women, deacons, and laypeople, will be able to vote. They will be chosen by the pope from among a list of 140 people selected by the leadership of this year’s continental synod meetings.
According to the synod leadership, it is requested that “50% of [the selected people] be women and that the presence of young people also be emphasized.”
“In selecting them, account is taken not only of their general culture and prudence but also of their knowledge, both theoretical and practical, as well as their participation in various capacities in the synod process,” the FAQ sheet says.
A second change states that five women religious and five men religious will be elected to represent their institutes of consecrated life rather than 10 religious priests as in the past.
The last modification is that Pope Francis will personally choose the representatives of the Vatican dicasteries who participate in the assembly.
“It’s a change, but it’s not a revolution,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator general of the Synod on Synodality, told journalists during a meeting to explain the changes April 26. “Change is normal in life, in history,” he added.
Approximately 21% of the total participation, expected to be 370 people, will be non-bishops, Hollerich explained.
Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, said the non-bishop participants — among them priests, religious, deacons, and laypeople — “are witnesses of the memory of the process, of the itinerary, of the discernment that began two years ago.”
Grech told CNA after the meeting that the synod of bishops has asked the presidents of the continental assemblies, which took place this spring, and the leadership of the Eastern Catholic Churches, to each submit a list of 20 people, 10 men and 10 women. From these lists, Pope Francis will choose 10 members.