Religion: Was This Trip Necessary?

A Synod of Bishops rushes to vagueness on the status of women

The Synod of Bishops is potentially among the most useful reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Every two or three years a select group of Roman Catholic bishops from around the world gathers to advise the Pope. But as the latest synod closed in Rome last week, Archbishop John May of St. Louis, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, cautioned that unless such meetings "produce something rather significant," Catholics will begin to question the "expenditure of people, time and effort."

Those disquieting questions linger after the 1987 synod, which was summoned to discuss the role of the laity. The month-long conference...