The proposal was made by the first lay auditors present at the 10th general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which runs until Oct. 27.
One of the auditors, Maria Christina Noronha de Sa, has worked with Rio de Janeiro´s street children for 30 years as director of the archdiocesan office for the pastoral care of youth.
"We women do not want the priesthood, nor do we claim a conflict of power," Noronha de Sa told the assembly Saturday. "We would like to offer our sensitivity and to experience the joy of communion, enriching the common mission of the Church, of which the bishops, with the Holy Father, are the teachers, priests and pastors."
Proof of the contribution of "feminine genius" to the life of the Church was the experience recounted by Noronha de Sa, after years of working on the streets of Rio.
"That which is most divine in the nature of humanity is found in the hearts of these children," she said. "It is here that the Church fulfills her prophetic mission, next to the many who are born in the gutters of the streets of the world."
"It is important to surmount the dichotomy between assistance and social change; it is necessary to convert the world," she added.
"Man and his salvation are integral parts of God´s plan," she said. "It is no longer possible to announce his name without proclaiming the human vocation. Every one must be a reason for the happiness and salvation of the other."
Indian religious Mary Kallupurakkathu, superior general of the Sisters of Our Lady, appealed to the bishops to follow the example of John Paul II, who "has continually given exceptional prominence to the dignity of women, recognizing their ´feminine genius´ for the creation of a more just world."
"Women religious need to be seen and accepted as more than just the work force in the Church," the nun emphasized.
"The Church of the third millennium will live with new vigor and hope if she looks at herself through the eyes of women," the superior general added. "May our Mother Church continue to find concrete ways to trust her daughters for the empowerment of the whole Church."