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Welcome, protect, promote and integrate walking towards Assisi 2023.
Days ago I was at the presentation of the autobiographic book of a woman who spent 30 years risking her life to create a space in which the victims of war and conflicts were protected. There I heard again the four verbs that Pope Francis gave us to address the problem of migrants and refugees: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. In the prayer of this morning, spontaneously arose inside of me a prayer that sounded like this:
Towards the General Assembly 2023 with Francis and Clare.
We started on the 1st of November 2022 the registration for the General Assembly. Our motto is: “Women of WUCWO: artisans of human fraternity for world peace”. Two great saints: Francis and Clare, lead us by the hand to Assisi 2023, from 14-20 May and to the private audience with Pope Francis, on Saturday 13th May, in Rome.
The encounter with Francis as a moment of conversion.
All WUCWO women are summoned to a private audience with Pope Francis on 13 May 2023; this event will be the threshold of our General Assembly in Assisi.
In this month of October, I entrust each one of you, women of our organisations, to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus (whom we celebrate on the 1st of this month) to guide our journey of conversion towards WUCWO with a synodal style that will be manifested in the audience with the Pope and in the Assembly 2023.
This month I would like to invite you to join me in a thanksgiving to God for everything received at WUCWO. Three verbs come spontaneously to me: to listen, to share and to grow. Let me share with you just some of the good news I have recently collected and in some cases experienced, region by region.
“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (EG 1). This is how I imagine our meeting will be like at the next General Assembly in Assisi, from 14 to 20 May 2023, preceded on 13 May by an audience with Pope Francis in Rome, to which all the women of WUCWO are invited. We are very grateful to the Holy Father!
“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you”, this is how the story of the Last Supper begins and hence the title of the recent papal document, Desiderio desideravi, which Pope Francis has chosen to give us a new gift. It is a kind of meditation on the Liturgy, so that we may recover the “wonder” in the face of mystery and allow ourselves to be penetrated by the One who unites Truth and Beauty in Himself. “Beauty, just like truth, always engenders wonder, and when these are referred to the mystery of God, they lead to adoration” (DD 25).
Called and calling to holiness.
“A saint is a masterpiece of God”, used to say my father and master of spiritual life, the Servant of God Luis María Etcheverry Boneo, founder of the Servidoras. It is by God’s Spirit working in us and with us that we can respond to the call to holiness and, in turn, call others to walk together towards that goal (4th resolution of the Dakar General Assembly, 2018).
The face of Christ reflected in women of the Roman Curia.
Until now, the offices of prefect and secretary of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia could only be held by those in Holy Orders. Obviously, women were excluded.
Since the recent apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium, women, lay or consecrated, as well as bishops, priests, religious or lay persons, can serve the Church in the position of a prefect or secretary of a dicastery.
The Preamble of the document says: “The Pope, bishops and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelisers in the Church... Every Christian, by virtue of Baptism, is a missionary disciple to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus”. From this derives the participation of lay men and women in the positions of governance and responsibility.
Women builders of peace in a Church which goes forth.
At this time, it seems of vital importance that we take up our position as women builders of peace in a Church which goes forth.
Let us work as a laboratory for peace and dignity
“Peace and dignity” are characteristic of the efforts of so many women, even more so if we are Catholics. “Catholic” means “universal”: concretely, we want to express that we have “a global heart” that embraces people and communities of the planet, especially those who are suffering most from violence and those who live where their dignity is trampled on, knowing that this situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The fabric of our resilience.
This morning, on Vatican News I read an article that made me shudder: “Every minute, 15 people die in the world due to lack of access to healthcare, the impacts of the climate crisis, hunger and gender-based violence” (source: Oxfam report, The Pandemic of Inequality). In the face of this dismaying information, God forbid that we become entangled in the “globalisation of indifference” that Pope Francis repeatedly denounces!
Let us plan a year of synodal learning.
There have been many milestones in the history of the Church. The major one in the last century was the Second Vatican Council. As a consequence of it, the Church has entered another turning point: the Synod 2021-2023, whose theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.” Never before in human history has there been a greater consultation. It is the Catholic Church that is calling together - not just a group of bishops to speak on behalf of their flock as in other synods - the 1.4 billion baptised members of the People of God. It is an authentically “Catholic” process, that is to say, a universal process, to be led by the Holy Spirit.