Towards a synodal Church and a synodal WUCWO
We are trying to emerge from this pandemic that will be marked in the history of humanity as a great crisis. Pope Francis repeats to us that “we never come out of a crisis the same: one comes out better or worse.” And we, women of WUCWO, live rooted in faith in the Risen Christ who urges us to live this Easter season 2021 with hope in the coming of the Holy Spirit who will “make all things new” (Rev 21:5).
We have the enormous gift of living in the Church. If we were to draw a picture of “the Church,” what would we do? Allow me to recall a memory from my youth. I was a catechist and community leader in a small town in the interior of my country, Argentina. In a meeting with a lot of children around me, I remember giving them sheets of paper and crayons to draw “the Church.” They all drew and painted a temple, specifically the temple of our town. They had no other image of “the Church” inside them. So, we went a long way together to understand that the Church is the community of all the baptised. That road still bears fruit today, as it keeps us united through social friendship and the communicating vessels of grace.
Today, the pontifical magisterium invites us to renew our image of the Church and thus our way of living as Church: a synodal Church. It is easy to say that “synod” comes from the Greek and means “to walk together,” but it is not so easy to incarnate this ecclesial experience vitally. Only the Holy Spirit can “imbue us with the dew” which penetrates us so deeply as to produce an authentic conversion in us. It is necessary to ask for his action and to let him act, in our case, within each of us, within our organisations and within WUCWO.
If we read Evangelii Gaudium again, we will find that the Pope, referring to the rich synodal experience of our Orthodox brothers and sisters, tells us: “Through an exchange of gifts, the Spirit can lead us ever more fully into truth and goodness” (EG 246). This is precisely what it is all about, to engage in an active, sincere and constructive dialogue between the organisations and women of WUCWO to “see, judge, act and celebrate” together on the extension of the 110th anniversary of the foundation of our Union.
The WUCWO Anniversary Commission invites us to share our good practices, and with them we will be able to widen the circles of dialogue and relationship with other organisations and individuals who will want to nourish themselves and us to assume co-responsibility in emerging from the crisis, through the action of the Holy Spirit, better than we were before the Coronavirus appeared on our planet. In the midst of the storm, we are all “called to row together, each of us in need of comforting each other. On this boat… are all of us” (Prayer of Pope Francis, 27 March 2020).
Faced with the great challenge of next year’s synod, on the theme For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission, I invite you to think, pray and live together in a synodal style this year of celebration, through three types of action. For communion: intensify communication for communion. WUCWO wants to listen to your organisations on their projects, needs and points of view. Our channels are open: email, telephone, website, articles in the magazine and newsletter, and particularly through the Communion Weavers that each organisation should have already appointed or will be able to do so soon.
For participation: at the request of some members, we have held one online meeting per month to discuss a topic of common interest (in February: the Laudato si’ platform; in March: International Women's Day; in April: the prevention of child abuse in connection with the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year). During these meetings, we have sought the participation of our organisations so that, little by little, they can gradually get to know each other better. In May, on the 14th at 2.30 pm CET, we will have a Mass to say goodbye to our dear Ecclesiastical Assistant, Fr. Gerard Whelan; we hope that everyone will participate.
For the mission: we are opening new paths through interreligious dialogue, collecting the experiences of women in different parts of the world and making them known in Women’s Voice, and establishing links with new organisations that are interested in becoming members of WUCWO. But above all we want the same Holy Spirit to impel each of us and our organisations to accompany with tenderness the most needy and distant people in this emergency, to show the feminine face of the Church to those who are wounded and lost, like the Good Samaritan (Cf. FT, chapter two).
I wish you the renewing fire of the Spirit for this new Pentecost, with my warmest regards.
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General