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'Shadow synod' demands radical reforms

Calling the Vatican "the world's last absolute monarchy", dissident Catholics from around the world have demanded radical reforms in their Church, including ordination of women priests.

The group is holding a "shadow synod" to counter an official synod of Bishops at the Vatican, a gathering they say is just another symbol of a male-dominated church.

"We're talking about vast numbers of Catholics who want change about many issues," said Valerie Stroud, the shadow synod's general secretary and a leader of movements for reform in the Catholic Church in the UK. "The Vatican is the world's last absolute monarchy but we are a Church that is not built with stones. We are human beings. The strength of the people is the Church and that's what we're talking about when we talk about democracy," she said on Thursday.

"We have to have the courage to stand and speak on behalf of people who want change but have no voice," she told a news conference.

Open Letter
Synod of the People of God 2001