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.
As I pray for these two events, I seem to glimpse the Holy Spirit offering us a historic gift for our lives and for the trajectory of WUCWO. We are at the historical crossroads of an epochal change in which women, both inside and outside the Church, can, if together, cultivate a social friendship, assume new responsibilities, and contribute effectively, together with men, to the universal brotherhood of the Church. (FT 99-117).
Every time a woman is discriminated, every time a young girl is raped, every time a mother is unable to feed her children, every time a worker is treated with indignity, every time a child in her mother's womb is eliminated, every time a woman is excluded from a co-responsible role because she is a woman, we feel a slap in the face that makes us react in unison.
We have set out, in our World Women’s Observatory (WWO), little by little, to listen in order to be able to give visibility to women, who for many seem invisible, in particular the most vulnerable. We are already starting in Latin America and Africa. Why? To generate synergy between decision-makers at pastoral, civil society, government, and international agency levels. Raising awareness, encouraging and proposing solutions is part of our goal, which is why our motto is: Listening to transform lives.
In reality, "everything starts at home" and in this case, "everything starts at WUCWO". LISTENING and SOLIDARITY must be evident within WUCWO. Today, the preparation for the personal encounter with the Pope invites us to generate more communication between WUCWO member organisations, to learn from each other and to collaborate with each other. I therefore offer the following questions for our reflection:
- Am I sharing best practices and projects with other WUCWO organisations? WUCWO has opened a page for each full member organisation in the upcoming special issue of Women’s Voice.
- Am I promoting a prayer campaign and organising a delegation to participate in the audience with the Holy Father? WUCWO must give a voice to vulnerable women from different continents, so that the Pope can hear them face to face, and they must be supported by their organisations.
These actions may not yet be underway, but they are certainly part of Francis' exhortation to us in Evangelii Gaudium, 25: “I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are”. Please, I ask you, let us get on with it!
We are many Catholic women united in the only International Public Association of the Faithful dedicated to women, recognised as such by the Holy See: we are between 8 and 10 million. How much we can contribute if each of us allows ourselves to be creatively moved by the Holy Spirit! It is time to face or renew our own pastoral and missionary conversion.
It is my heartfelt wish that by taking concrete steps towards this conversion, we will all meet in Rome to celebrate WUCWO Day on 13 May 2023, together with Pope Francis.
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General