Alessia Pierdomenico /

Pope Francis has made the historic decision to give women the right to vote in an upcoming meeting of bishops in October. The new rules announced that five religious sisters will be given voting rights at the synod. In the past, women have only been allowed to attend the gathering as observers, with no voting rights. Although men will still have the majority of votes, this still marks a historic first, giving women a chance to shift the Roman Catholic Church, which has been male-dominated for centuries.

The US-based group that advocates for women priests, The Women’s Ordination Conference, called the reform “a significant crack in the stained glass ceiling.” The group took to Twitter to share more of their thoughts saying, “For years Vatican representatives and bishops resisted, moving the goalpost with every synod as to why women were not allowed to vote. The unspoken reason was always sexism. In the near future, we hope that the synod continues to develop into a fully representative body of the people of God.”

Pope Francis, who has continued to be a breaker of tradition, announced the plan to extend voting rights to 70 hand-picked non-clerical members in an attempt to move the synod away from being a meeting that solely consists of the Church hierarchy. The Pope says that he hopes half of these new members will be women and young adults. “It’s an important change, it’s not a revolution,” said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, a top organizer of the synod.

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