REPORTS AND EVENTS
2023 WUCWO GENERAL ASSEMBLY
WUCWO REPORT FOR THE SYNOD ON SYNODALITY
INTRODUCTION: The World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations (WUCWO), founded in 1910, currently includes over 100 member organizations from more than 60 countries representing over 9 million Catholic women walking together from every region of the globe (www.wucwo.org). Blessed to have been erected as a Public Association of the Faithful in 2006, WUCWO fully embraces the doctrines and social justice teachings of our Holy Mother Church.In an organization that spans the globe, just as our universal Church, our women come from different cultures and speak different languages but are closely bound as sisters through our shared Catholic faith. Different economic and political structures and social constructs provide widely varying realities for our women that are reflected in opportunities and challenges in their daily lives. Some of the difficulties encountered include: Patriarchal societies that dictate physical and educational detriments for the girl child; forced and child marriages; legal or cultural exclusion of women from inheritance or economic opportunities; incursions and wars; religious intolerance; effects of climate change and economic disparities causing widespread migration and refugee situations; corruption; lack of medical care; lack of recognition of the complementarity of men and women; and the dissolution of the traditional family structure. Our commonalities shine as women who share feminine-maternal traits such as compassion, empathy, tenderness, solidarity, fortitude, inner strength and strong faith based in eternal hope. WUCWO women gain strength from our Catholic faith and from walking with each other, recognizing their responsibility to shape the faith of the family and the next generations. Our member organizations work to enhance spirituality, leadership, and service opportunities for our Catholic women to improve their communities and the evangelization of our Catholic faith.UCWO has formed a Worldwide Women’s Observatory to document and study the best ways to mitigate difficulties women face in different parts of the world; to give voice to those who are never heard that their potential might be realized. To date, the Observatory has completed studies in Latin America and the Caribbean and is starting work in Africa. It is envisioned that WUCWO’s Observatory will eventually embrace the entire world.A synodal approach has long been used by WUCWO as Regional Vice Presidents unite, share, and gather knowledge and input from the member organizations in their respective regions which are: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin American and the Caribbean, and North America.The present Synod, so wonderful in the desire to capture the voice of all members of our Church, can benefit from the input of WUCWO representing Catholic women from so many regions, countries, cultures, and socio-economic-political systems. Our WUCWO women are from every spectrum of society, wealthy, middle class, and poor, and every level within our Church from the faithful lay women in the pew to those women who hold a leadership position in their parish, diocese, or religious order. Therefore, WUCWO, desiring to make a contribution of the voice of Catholic women world-wide to the Synod on Synodality and receiving the very welcome agreement of Cardinal Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, to do so at a meeting with the WUCWO Executive in June 2022, presented the following questions to all members and is happy to provide a synopsis of the thoughtful and rich responses received from our women who rejoice in walking together:Question 1: Please briefly note any obstacles to the Church becoming a more Synodal Church, one that listens, makes a common discernment, walks and learns together, at the following levels: Universal Church; Diocesan level; and Parish level.Question 2: Please briefly note improvements the Church can make to move forward as a Synodal Church at the following levels: Universal; Diocesan; and Parish.3Though we had a short timespan to collect the responses from our women throughout the world, we were delighted to receive over a thousand written answers, many sending a composite report representing the responses they received from their entire organization. Taking that into account, WUCWO received the comments of over 5,000 Catholic women from around the world within less than a month from when the request was made for their participation. Clearly, WUCWO women are deeply committed to a more Synodal Church and are filled with great love for our Holy Mother Church.Women from the following countries made their contributions to this report:AFRICA: Cameroon, Eswatini, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, and SenegalASIA-PACIFIC: Australia, India, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, and South KoreaEUROPE: Austria, England, France, Malta, Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, and WalesLATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: Argentina and CubaNORTH AMERICA: Canada and United States of AmericaFollowing is a summary of the major points made in response to the two questions that were posed. The comments reported here are solely the view of the person who originally wrote them. WUCWO, as an International Public Association of the Faithful, adheres strictly to the doctrines and teachings of the Church and does not endorse statements not consonant with Church doctrine or teachings. That being stated, it should be noted that this report contains some ideas that are presently not completely in synch with Church teachings or regulations. WUCWO reports them here for the sake of providing the true and complete report of comments received in the spirit of synodality, listening to all the voices of those who responded to the request for their opinion and who believed that their comments would be conveyed to the Synod.It is now WUCWO’s privilege to present a brief summary of the main points gleaned from the responses received. Please understand that what follows immediately is by necessity just a very brief summary of the most frequently mentioned issues and suggestions received. This quick summary is followed by a more complete response divided by region that provides a more comprehensive look at all the issues and potential solutions mentioned.QUESTION ONE: Obstacles to a Synodal ChurchClericalism leading to:Abuse of powerReluctance to change or explore new ideas/methodsFear of ceding some control to qualified laityBelief by some clergy and laity that the clergy are better Catholics or persons than the laityArbitrary disregard for committee conclusions or votesChauvinism:Male domination of Church structures including lay organizations and parish ministriesPerpetuation of the historical ideology of women in Society and the Church as less than menChurch portrayal of women as temptresses and sinnersLack of support for Pope Francis by some bishops and priests causing misinformation and confusionamong the laityRigid Hierarchical Structure:Top downLack of accessibility and dialogueLack of accountability and information sharingLack of consistency among dioceses4Administrative bottlenecksArchaic rules on conscience matters (e.g. contraception, divorce)Disconnect of bishop from parishesUphold status quo or true change to Synodal Church? Listening to the Holy Spirit?Some clergy too politicalCare for Clergy lacking:Celibate priests lonely and withdrawnLack of pastoral care for clergyOverwhelmed with administrative duties at expense of pastoral work/vocationCultural Diversity issues:RacismDiscrimination/ Favoritism based on ethnicity, culture, language, race, tribe, wealth, educationCultural and theological differences across bishops’ conferencesTraditional beliefs strong in some places (Christian by day, traditional by night)Communication issues:Reluctance to share information with the laityNeed to update to modern technologyNeed to spread the message beyond the pewsPublicity widespread for negative stories and totally lacking for all the good the Church doesLanguage: Average person is not familiar with the language used in Vatican documentsInadequate attention to diversity of the many languages used throughout our universal ChurchLiturgy and Devotions:Ignore cultural diversityLack of consistent proper formPhysically and learning disabled excluded from access and participationLack of vocations and use of Foreign/Missionary Priests:Lack of priests -lack of Mass and SacramentsParish closures in neighborhoods causing distress, disaffection, and departure from the ChurchResources lacking in small parishes to offer ministries but cathedral can be embellishedLack of respect for culture by mission priests where they are assignedOften difficult to understand foreign priestsWrong to take priests from Africa or India for Europe or other regionsSex abuse crisis resulting in lack of trust and credibilitySeminarian selection and preparation:Too closed off from real worldUncomfortable speaking with womenThorough grounding in Church teachings neededThorough preparation in homiletics needed-boring sermonsCatechesis:Bad or no catechesis resulting in laity unprepared to defend Church teachings or evangelizeNo awareness of Canon LawCatholic schools do not emphasize or present Catholic instruction5Youth:Excluded from parish decisionsDon’t feel their contributions are valuedNo forum for youthRole of Women in the Church: Lack of voice, presence, and respect at all levels of the ChurchQUESTIONS TWO: Suggestions for improvements so as to achieve a Synodal ChurchClericalism:Educate the clergy and the laity to understand that all are equal in God’s eyes and in our Churchand each brings their unique talents and gifts to share in the mission of leading all to holinessMany new priests today embrace clericalism and give the impression of being better and abovethe laity. This resurgence must be stopped and begins with the training of seminarians.Laity (and clergy) must be taught the Marian and Petrine principles that provide the correctemphasis on the complementary roles of the laity and the clergyThe ability of a pastor to veto a consensus opinion of the congregation or a committee of theparish must be removedChauvinism:Integrate committees and commissions so that they represent all the people of God to includeequal representation of womenRe-examine and correct the portrayal of women incorrectly branded as sinners in the Church’spast and ensure that the stories of women who were great disciples be knownEducate all members of the Church to the abilities and gifts of women as well as to their strongqualities. Honor all women and accept that women are normally the first to teach the faithto their children and are the vessels of lifeEducate clergy on the complementarity of men and womenEducate young boys on the equality of women and the enrichment women can bring to allLack of Support for Pope Francis: Those bishops who oppose Pope Francis should be removed immediately from their postsPriests who choose not to support the initiatives of the Pope should be removed immediatelyRigid Hierarchical Structure:Essential to listen to the Holy Spirit and let the Holy Spirit guide all decisions and paths takenLet the Holy Spirit guide us to a new age where all are equalWork for equal governance and inclusionSelect bishops who can lead with competence, goodness, ability, and have the favor of their laityEnsure adequate checks and balances (e.g., finances, discipline, etc.)Listen to the opinion of the lay faithful and not just the clergyGet beyond a Euro-centric way of thinkingRe-examine rules made that should be left to conscience decisions (i.e. contraception, divorce…)Hierarchical structure makes synodality difficult. Bishops vote on the universal level; priestsvote on the diocesan level; but in parishes the pastor can overrule a committee decisionReadiness of bishops to create a culture of open communication and shared decision makingvaries greatly. New bishops must embrace this vision and make it a reality around the worldPriests and bishops who embrace a political stance in opposition to the Pope’s teaching shouldbe removedEncourage inter-parish and inter-diocesan events to connect everyone as a people of God6Care for Clergy lacking:Diocesan bishops should ensure that pastoral care for clergy is providedEnsure that parish priests have time for a retreat and continuing educationMany priests are lonely – Consider option for married priestsAllow qualified lay persons to assume administrative duties to free clergy for pastoral work andto permit sufficient time for clergy to get to know their congregationsCultural Diversity Issues:Create an environment where all feel welcome and an equal integral part of the Church,especially at the parish levelEradicate racism and its opposite, favoritism.Educate the minds and hearts of all the Church to see each other as brothers and sisters in thefamily of GodHonor and incorporate cultural traditions that are not in opposition to ChristianityPreach carefully but firmly against traditional culture where it is in opposition to ChristianityCommunication Issues:Need to use varied media to reach the young and retain the elder members of the congregationNeed to update to latest technology to ensure rapid and accurate communicationNeed communication lines between bishops and laity to be easily accessible and bishops andpastors who are willing to speak with the laityNeed better publicity for the good work of the ChurchNeed to expose the laity to the latest Church documents and initiativesLanguage:Vatican documents need a new language; one that is understood by the average lay personIssue liturgical and devotional texts in language that is understood by all and appropriate todifferent culturesIncorporate lay persons into committees that approve language changes in liturgical textsLiturgy and Devotions:Accommodate physically and learning disabled persons through access to the church andparticipation in the liturgy or devotionProvide texts that are culturally appropriate and consistent with proper formLack of Vocations and use of Foreign/Missionary PriestsRe-evaluate closing parishes and churches. Look at lay ministers running a parish with regularvisits from a priest to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments and provide supportEncourage vocations by example of clergy living a happy life and by word from the pulpitParents and laity should approach youth and directly ask them if they have considered whetherthey have considered a vocationLack of priests could be solved by opening the priesthood to married men and to olderexperienced men, and by allowing celibacy to be optional for all single men that mighthave a vocationOften, priests from Africa are very difficult to understand in other regionsTrain mission priests to have an appreciation for the culture where they are being sentIt is wrong to strip Africa and India of their priests for Europe and other regions. This “solution”needs to endSex abuse crisis:Publicize the decline in occurrences and all the good work done to aid victims; establish norms;and select seminarians who are not inclined to pedophilia7Ensure that seminary screening and current norms are enforcedSelection and Preparation of SeminariansHave seminarians spend the greater part of their training in the real worldHave women teachers at seminaries so seminarians learn how to speak with and be aroundwomenProvide a very thorough training in Church teachingsProvide excellent training in homiletics as the homily each week might be the only Catholiceducation received by a parishioner. All of us have sat through too many boring wandering homilies containing little connection to our realities making listening an onerous taskEducate them on the seminal importance of the family to Society and the ChurchRecruit seminarians with specific pastoral cultural needs in mindCatechesisEvery parish must provide consistent excellent training in our Catholic faith to include, Scripture,tradition, catechism, Church teachings, pertinent Canon Law, and Vatican documents.This training must be available at ALL age levelsThrough this training, every Catholic should be equipped to evangelize and to defend ourCatholic faith when challengedCatholic schools must be made affordable for any Catholic student who wishes to attendCatholic schools must return to making our faith integral to the life and education of eachStudentCare for CreationContinue to promote caring for the planet and people, especially the most vulnerableYouth:Our youth must be made to feel an essential and valued part of each level of the ChurchYoung persons should be a part of every Parish Council and groupOutreach should be done to contact baptized young persons who may not be coming to churchEvents and programs that are instructive and attractive to youth should be available in everyparish and diocese (World Youth Day; programs that involve spirituality to includeAdoration, service, and fun; retreats, talks, etc.)Include youth in preparation of liturgies and have youth liturgies that appeal to their taste inmusic and approved formEstablish a Youth Group Coordinator at the Vatican who can provide voice and presence foryoung people at Synods and consultation for committeesWomen:We realize that steps are being made to remedy the lack of female membership of Vatican committees and to fill important positions in the Dicasteries. For this, we are most grateful.We are very pleased to have our President General named to the Dicastery of Bishops along with two religious Sisters. It was mentioned that this is a step in the right direction because many of the bishops still do not embrace having women in leadership roles. To he truly inclusive, it was mentioned that it would be best to also name some married women to the Dicastery to have a balanced voice in selection of bishops.Other comments called for consideration of women deacons and that qualified lay women be allowed to preach.Many comments requested that every level of the Church ensure that women and the gifts they bring to leadership roles in the Church are valued, their voices heard with respect and that they are treated equally.8Equal representation on committees is considered essential to provide the unique voice and skills women can bring.We must complete the breakthrough of moving women from second-class status to equality and it is essential that men, especially clergy, accept that women are as capable as men in leadership roles and belong in equal representation on Church committees and in positions of importance. Women have many gifts and talents to bring to the table.The above brief summary provides only the top level ideas brought forth in the responses received. A more complete sampling follows for each region and it is essential to a full understanding of the issues and potential solutions conveyed by WUCWO women that the following be read. It is in those pages that one will find the voice of the women as well as some issues that are not present in the summary above that includes only those issues most frequently noted.AFRICA REGION: Consolidated commentsQuestion 1 OBSTACLES TO BECOMING A SYNODAL CHURCH:UNIVERSAL:Lack of support for Pope Francis’ initiatives to promote the voice of the laity and women in the ChurchFaithful are confused by the many Chrisitan churches and can be lost to the Catholic ChurchMultiplicity of expressions of faith in worshipRacism -can a Black ever be Pope?DIOCESAN:Ethnic and linguistic diversities lead to a struggle to have an order of discipline over parishes, priests, and peopleTribalismDiscrimination among priests and the faithful; Social stratification based on finances and educationMale domination of leadership rolesAdministrative bottlenecks that keep the faithful away and their voice not heardClericalismEach diocese is struggling to find resources resulting in a lack of harmony in activity among diocesesPARISH:Traditional beliefs are still very strong (Christian by day and traditional by night)TribalismBarriers to the family structureEthnic and language issues -foreign priests despise the culture of the lay faithfulDisrespect of priestsClericalismAbuse of power9Disrespect of elders by priestsNeglect of persons who do not belong to specific societies or associations, especially during difficult timesChurch movements and associations not well managed and unwelcoming to new leadershipFavoritism based on wealth, class, and educationLack of trust and confidenceLack of financial accountabilityBad relationships between priests and the faithful as the congregation becomes overburdened with non-spiritual mattersLack of respect, and presence of jealousy, and trust among laityLack of knowledge and misinterpretation of Scripture and Church teachingsIN BOTH DIOCESAN AND PARISH LEVELS:Poor communication (top-down and not equal or open to all)Diversity is a richness but generates many problems in service to our Catholic MissionPoor catechetical instruction at all stages of life leads to weak faith or leaving the ChurchMale dominated Church structures -no place for women or youthClergy does not represent the face of Christ to the faithful but many are obsessed with material goods, wealth, and prestigeAttitude of some, especially clergy and religious, that they are “more Catholic” than othersClericalismDiscrimination based on gender, race, tribe, economic statusLack of respect for the work women do in the ChurchNo procedures in place to guide us in walking together as a Synodal ChurchNot enough awareness of Canon LawLeadership from the lay faithful is dominated by men from small Christian communities through to the diocesan levelQUESTION 2 OPPORTUNITITES TO BECOME A MORE SYNODAL CHURCH:UNIVERSAL:Uniform worship in accord with liturgical texts for Mass and sacramentsIssue texts in language understood by allUse a specific language in the context of the New EvangelizationFoster love among all the faithful at all levels -one ChurchHear women’s voice and views through female representation10Provide equal governance (not top to bottom)Unite all believers around the essence of Christian faithLet the Holy Spirit guide the Church to a new age where all are equal just as we are all equal in the eyes of GodDIOCESAN:Select bishops who can lead with righteousness, goodness, competence, and ability and who have the favor of most of the lay faithfulAvoid conflict among and within diocesesAppoint lay administrators to handle day to day administrative duties so priests are free to concentrate on spiritual aspectsRemove clergy as administrators of schoolsProvide good governance and an example of solidarity so we all learn to live together our joys and sorrows and face common concerns togetherEnsure that the concerns of the clergy and the lay faithful are taken care of holisticallyRecognize and appreciate the role of Catholic women. A church without women is an empty building without lifeNeed a system of checks and balancesEnsure adequate financial recordsEnsure adequate disciplinary sanctions, when necessaryTreat all persons equally. Work together irrespective of class, social status, tribe, or nationalityListen to the opinion of the lay faithful and not just to the clergyTrain more catechists for small Christian communities and have regular visits by a priest to support and encourage themOrganize Church programs for youth that teach Church doctrine, love of God, and include fun and service activitiesEvangelize at the peripheriesPARISH:Take into account values and ancestral beliefs that do not contradict ChristianityAvoid conflict at all levelsMen of God should detach themselves from secular lifestyles. Bring materialistic tendencies of clergy under controlChecks and balances should be implemented for finances and behaviorTreat all persons equally; discourage discrimination and favoritismKeep churches in neighborhoods11Holiness is the business of all; not just reserved to a fewHave regular open forums for all the lay faithful for feedback collectionEstablish and support youth groups to nurture responsible Catholic men and women for the Church of the futureHave refresher classes for catechism and Church writings for adultsHave ongoing retreats, seminars, and pilgrimages that are open to all the faithfulAlways seek the Holy Spirit’s intervention and guidance so we can walk together as a family.Avoid clericalism; start in seminaries with exposure to real life and to Catholic women. We are all partners helping each other to reach holiness. Respect each other’s skillsALL LEVELS:Good communication and collaborationEncourage the youth to join Catholic organizations for the lay faithful as this is important in their formative yearsLive as a Church familyInclude all in decision making and planning. Invite all men and women, youth, ethnicities, and races and listen to all opinions equally.Do away with clericalism starting in training for the priesthoodASIA-PACIFIC REGION: Consolidated commentsThe Asia-Pacific Region is so large and diverse that there are some comments specific to a particular country and not found in other areas of the region. In those cases, the comments will be identified by country.Question 1 OBSTACLES TO BECOMING A SYNODAL CHURCHUNIVERSAL:Lack of recognition of diversity -welcome diversity at all levels and be mindful of cultural practicesLack of ability to use one’s gifts for fuller participation at every level of the ChurchArchaic rules e.g. artificial contraception, need to be revoked. These are conscience decisionsA rigid hierarchical structure full of rules and regulationsListen to all people -give HOPE!Involve women in decision making and planningAllow divorced Catholics to take the SacramentFind a way to give consecrated wine to the sick and dyingSex abuse scandalDIOCESAN:12Lack of women’s voice and presence in leadership rolesClericalism - Autocratic leadership of the bishops and priests that is vertical and rigid leading to less participationLack of communication among bishops, priests, religious, and laityBishops, clergy, and religious are reluctant to changeHierarchy is inward looking and preoccupied with governance, bureaucracies, and committees forming new committees even as the pews emptyInability of some bishops to be open to new ideasMistrust by the laity -will their contribution really be considered?Lack of priests means lack of Mass and SacramentsSeminarians are too closeted with no experience of the real worldLack of training and oversight of missionary priestsCultural and theological differences across episcopal conferencesLack of appreciation for cultural diversity -RacismBigger parishes are not better -loss of identity and closeness to the Church -feel abandonedThe large number of dioceses in Japan make it difficult to act in union with each otherIn Japan, the Catholic Mission Schools are now run by non-Christians as ordinary schoolsPARISH:In many parishes, the priest is satisfied with providing Mass and indifferent to interaction with parishionersLack of clergyMany go to church driven by a strong sense of duty rather than joyfully looking forward to celebrating the EucharistNo place for sharing with the priests and congregationDisconnect between priest and the parish (Lebanon comment)Priests do not encourage connections between parishesUnwillingness to change leadership in church organizationsIn many areas, both husband and wife have jobs which limits church activities to the elderly. Cannot walk with the youth.Everything gets decided by the same people in the parish with the general congregation just getting reports and no voiceOccasional presence of native pagan spirituality; This is inappropriate as they worship many gods and not the One True GodClericalism -inability or reluctance of clergy to hand over any power to the laity.13QUESTION 2 OPPORTUNITITES TO BECOME A MORE SYNODAL CHURCH:UNIVERSAL:Eradicate clericalismEmpower women to include leadership roles. Acknowledge and appreciate the contributions women can make and the skills they can bringInclude one or more married women on the committee to select bishopsInclude the active participation of laity and professionals in Synods and commissionsRespond to Laudato si’ with urgencyBe hospitable and inclusive: young, indigenous, immigrants, LGTBQ+ CatholicsGet beyond a Europe-centered way of thinkingRecognize and implement deeper bi-cultural relationships with indigenous and local languagesPromote the ability of the laity to speak out freely and openly -not just always listen to the HierarchyProvide the option for priests to marry and ordain married men and consider ordination of womenLet older persons with experience become priests and religiousConsider the deaconate for women (Australia)Two comments from Australia requested the re-institution of the 3rd Rite of ReconciliationJapan commented that it would be preferred to appeal to Society as the Catholic Church in JapanEnsure that the recommendations from Vatican II are implemented in every dioceseDIOCESAN:Seminarians should live in the real world for most of their trainingOverseas (mission) priests should be trained in respect for the culture in the countries to which they are being sentTrain laity to preside over Communion Services and to run parishes with occasional visits from a priestConnect parishes -communicationCreate activities in which all parishes can participateStop closing neighborhood churches, especially where there are connected schoolsIn Japan, restore the function of the Catholic Mission SchoolsJapan also commented that the laity are unaware of what is discussed at the Council of BishopsListen to the direction of Pope Francis who is inspired by the Holy SpiritPARISH:Provide opportunities for all to learn and pray togetherEncourage interreligious dialogue and events14Provide opportunities for contact with the bishopCommunication is keyProvide reporting sessions so the laity is aware of plans being madeParish finances must be transparentRespect and reflect the opinion of women (who in Japan make up the majority of Church members)Provide welcome and support for families with childrenCare for the weakest of the Church’s children. Encourage organizations that reach out to those in spiritual and physical needStrengthen spiritual life in the parish. Hold spiritual formation sessionsHold fewer meetings and encourage more work with Society (e.g., volunteer work)Encourage and engage with the youthEUROPE REGION Consolidated commentsQuestion 1 OBSTACLES TO BECOMING A SYNODAL CHURCHUNIVERSAL:Ongoing issues re: mis-management of the child abuse scandal leading to loss of trust and credibilityAbsence of women’s perspective in decision making. Male dominated. No balanced perspective is possible like thisUse of language not understood outside of Church circlesHierarchical structure of the Church anchored in Canon Law precludes synodality. Voting is reserved to bishops on the Universal level, to priests on the diocesan level, and in parishes, the pastor can overrule committee decisionsThe historical image of woman promoted by the Church is of a temptress and sinner, inferiorInstitutional and fundamental discrimination against women, laity, vulnerable, and poorMake celibacy optional for priests (several comments) and ordain women (one comment)DIOCESAN:Lack of humility and will for dialogueInability to listen fraternally and attentivelyLack of diocesan-parish subsidiarity (all decisions rest ultimately with the bishop)Unwillingness to change leading to not going to the existential peripheries and fear of failureUnwilling to seek new solutions or methodsNot feeling qualified to take on new rolesBishops openly political15Readiness of bishops to create a culture of open communication and shared decision making varies bydioceseCommunications within diocese is inadequate and needs to be updatedFailure to plan for decline in clergy numbers. Stripping priests from Africa and India doesn’t work and isinappropriatePoor selection criteria and poor training of seminarians means they are ill-equipped to deal with SocietyLittle pastoral care for clergy. Priests are too isolated and become lonelyBishops do not have the time to get to know the problems in parishes and only hear what the priest tellshim. Bishop is a distant figureClosure of parish neighborhood churches means losing CatholicsDisagreement or criticism of the Pope’s decisions by some bishops is confusing and misleading to thelaityAt diocesan and parish levels the Church leaders are unreadable and unavailablePARISH:Clericalism and exaggerated understanding of the priesthood.Arbitrary power of priests -no obligation to consult the laity. Unwilling to dialogue or co-createSmall parishes lack the resources to hire youth coordinator, music director, etc.,Exclusion from the Eucharist (includes self-exclusion) such as for irregular relationships, etc.Indifferent preaching on ScriptureAdministrative duties preclude clergy from spiritual ministryClergy do not know the parishioners; barriers to understanding each otherCelibate clergy do not have a balanced view of married or family lifeParish clergy ignore women’s gifts. Women are not valued, not heard, not taken seriouslyRivalry among some parishioners to be recognized as important; always wanting to be the head ofsomethingLack of knowledge beyond the parish by the laityLack of adequate catechesis. Parishioners unable to evangelize of defend the Catholic faith whenconfronted by non-believers or non-CatholicsNo idea of the Pope’s weekly teaching or Vatican documentsLack of communication in the parish leads to apathyQUESTION 2 OPPORTUNITITES TO BECOME A MORE SYNODAL CHURCHUNIVERSAL:Realize that the Church is “we” and not “I” meaning we are all protagonists in the construction of aSynodal Church16Build on the initiatives of Vatican II. Pope Francis is on the right path guided by the Spirit but he needs the support of all the bishopsPut into practice the message of love and forgiveness and emphasize basic Catholic teachingsClergy and laity acting united -actively participating with the gifts of each valued. Involve all in ministries.Recognize the relationship between clergy and laity in Canon Law clearly as Christ would have wished. The equal dignity of men and women should be recognized in Canon Law. This is necessary so that women in synodal assemblies are not subject to discrimination or ignored with no voteA Church guided by the Holy Spirit to a greater openness of discernmentWelcoming all forms of liturgy to include the Latin Mass which attracts many young peopleHaving Catholic schools offer daily prayer and instruction in Church teachingsHomilies that address Scripture well and apply them to modern daily life. Homilies that address issues like life from conception; complementarity between men and women; human ecologyEncourage recognition of regional cultures and allow a diversity of RitesWork toward a more democratic structure with balanced representation of the whole of the people of God in various ministries of the ChurchConsider married clergy and women deaconsOpen the preaching ministry to all who have the necessary gifts to share God’s wordEngage the laity in decisions about new translations of Scripture and liturgical texts so the wording is understandable and familiarReview Scripture and Church history to make women visible and gain their rightful place (not as sinners and temptresses). There were many great women disciplesContinue to promote caring for the planet and people, especially the most vulnerableDemand an accountability for processes in the ChurchAppoint an overall Youth Group leader to represent youth at the universal level. Young persons then will have voice and feel included in the ChurchDIOCESAN:Provide funding for education for lay ministries. Encourage young people to engage in lay ministryProvide training for formation of lay leaders, especially women. There needs to be a greater appreciation for women’s giftsBetter selection and training of seminarians. Include laity in clergy formationDevelop structures for consultation/ decision making that break down hierarchical barriers and strive for consensus. Hold diocesan synods open to all Catholics in the diocese and allow laity to be included in running the dioceseValue the contributions that women can make. Use their creativity and talentsTake the See, Judge, Act model seriously17Communicate information on activities and events at all parishes in the diocese so everyone can attendPARISH:Establish effective elected parish councils that have the power to manage finances and property freeing the clergy to focus on sacramental ministry. Laity on parish councils will bring increased involvement of the laity in the parish creating a Church more responsive to today’s worldAdapt new updated technologies for communicationPriests need to meet with their parishioners and move away from administrative work. Support pastorsClergy need to live service, not powerTrain people in Scripture and Church teachings to teach and evangelize so Catholics can confidently explain their faithLATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN REGION Consolidated commentsQuestion 1 OBSTACLES TO BECOMING A SYNODAL CHURCHClericalism both in the minds of the clergy and the laityResistance to different ways of exercising authorityThe absence of true bodies of communion for consultation and decision making with the ability to put decisions made into practice immediatelyHindering the equal participation of women in decision makingFear or reluctance of the laity to assume new responsibilitiesNot telling the world what the Church does for Society (e.g., education, family strength, health care, etc.)QUESTION 2 OPPORTUNITITES TO BECOME A MORE SYNODAL CHURCHPlan conferences with parishioners to listen and build bridgesChange the mentality that empowers clericalism in the clergy and the laitySynodal formation in seminars and incorporating women as teachersNew responsibilities for the laityOvercome prejudicesLighten medieval liturgical expressionListening and formation for the laityImproved communication methodsDemonstrate the value of the Church to the world and its commitment to our brothers and sisters18NORTH AMERICA REGION Consolidated commentsQuestion 1 OBSTACLES TO BECOMING A SYNODAL CHURCHUNIVERSAL:The historical ideology of women as subservient to men; the sinful behavior of sex, gender preferencesVatican documents need more concise and easier to understand wordingHistorically, the hierarchical structure of the Church has been top down and has not solicited input from its members, especially women. This will make it difficult for many to believe that their opinions will be listened toBeing tied to tradition and reluctance to changeRacismExclusion of people with learning and physical disabilities. Access to churches, access to the liturgy, and access to having an active part in the Mass are all denied.Concern that the Church may be more interested in maintaining the status quo rather than being the Church that Jesus instituted. Is it more interested in protecting the institution or doing her utmost to bring all her members to holiness?Is the Church asking how women may be more of an equal part of the Body of Christ?Traditionalist mindsetDevotionals do not represent all races/ethnicitiesDIOCESAN:Some bishops follow papal directives; some do not. They need to come into line or give up their office.Different dioceses have different consequences for behavior; everything depends on the bishop’s visionReluctance of some clergy to have laity participate in diocesan synodal discussions or meetings with no repercussions from the diocese. Lack of firm and consistent leadershipMore consistency within the diocese in areas of teaching, following the proper format for MassSome of the bishops are very political; this should not be allowed. Some bishops are our greatest obstacleThe closure of parishes and churches has resulted in the loss of identity for many Catholics. This has been very bad sending a terrible message to the public and causing many Catholics to look to other faiths or stop belonging to any organized religionClericalism – bishops and priests who view Synodal discussions as a challenge to their decision making authorityOur priests have not been trained to listen to their parishionersBlack parish school and church closuresNeglect of Black vocations19PARISH:Not enough information shared at the parish level to understand what a Synodal Church isCommunication -Reluctance of parishioners to state their opinion to the clergy because they don’t think the priest cares or will listen anywayClericalism -pastor overseeing the parish and doing whatever he wishes, disregarding committee or professional recommendations.Chauvinism that allows clergy to presume they are above everyone and can dictate to the parishioners what they want for the church regardless of what the parishioners want.Racism and Tribalism: In some churches, people of different ethnicities feel they are looked at with disdain and don’t feel they belong. This also works in reverse when long-time parishioners feel displaced as Masses are celebrated in another language or with different socio cultural differences with singing and dancing in unfamiliar languages as new groups arrive and “take over” the churchStories about corruption in the Church. Nothing in the news about the good work the Church does all around the worldReality is that you can shop for the parish you want: Rich? Get a parish that doesn’t rock the boat about responsibility to the poor. Ex- military? Get a parish where the pastor doesn’t talk about the evil of war. Traditional? Get an older traditional pastor. None of this lack of consistent message helps spiritual growthPriest who preaches from the Readings with no negativity for sinful behavior and then urges us to go to Reconciliation. Younger people have no concept of sin or most Church teachings except the feel good ones.Apathy among young adults to seek a closer walk with God. Many leave the faith because of laziness and secular influence.Humans in general forget the important message: Love God, love yourself, love others. Love is a difficult thing requiring time, thought, and prayer. Society discourages all of this.The knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith has not been transmitted well for some time causing misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and division.The poor quality of religious education in schools and churchesToday, there are often more non-Catholic students in Catholic schools than Catholics and the teaching of the faith has become secondary or nearly absentPast missionary activityCareerism of clergy, present at every level of the ChurchQUESTION 2 OPPORTUNITITES TO BECOME A MORE SYNODAL CHURCHUNIVERSAL:Pope Francis is definitely on the right path. He practices what he preaches, very accepting of all sinners, interested in protecting children from predators. In liturgical practices, he has a good hold on reality for all countries and evangelization. We pray his work continues. Every bishop should be held accountable for following his direction.20Stop watering down the teachings of the Church and preach well. Too many young Catholics are walking away and going to Bible churches because they “tell it like it is.”Always listen to the call of the Holy SpiritPersistent education of the congregation on how to listen to the Holy SpiritListen and be open to new ideasIncreased dialogue and inclusion of women in planning and decision making processes in the Church. Honor and value what women bring to the tableWhile we must be in the world but not of the world, there is a need for the voice of women to be heard and heededRecognize that many of the lay faithful are cut off from the Eucharist because they married the wrong person when they were young, All other mistakes made are forgiven; why not this one? To lose something so central and vitally important for a youthful error is unmercifulTeach Church members diversity and acceptance of all people in our ChurchPromote vocations directly in Black/African American, Latino, and Native American communitiesListen to the cry of the poor and marginalized and of the earth. Preach that Laudato si’ is not optionalThere has to be an appreciation that the Church is international and there may not be a one size fits all solution to many issuesMore resources for young familiesDIOCESAN:More frequent diocesan Synod-like meetings with follow-up. Participants should be informed about the proposed changes and the expected timeline for implementation.Structure and process must be aligned to achieve a synodal process: Organizational structure at the diocesan level and performance objectives for each parish priest should be a part of thisHonor Holy Days that seem to have been diminished in the recent pastBetter access and engagement of bishops with Black Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, Asian-American Catholics, and Native American CatholicsCommunication from the diocese to the parish needs to be improved so that all parishioners receive pertinent information. For instance, in one parish the writer had to contact her Archdiocese as she had heard nothing about the Synod for Synodality or the US Eucharistic Revival except through her Catholic women’s organizationUpdate and use technology to reach all parishionersPlace laity in charge in concert with the bishop. The majority of the diocese are lay persons, many educated in theology and our Catholic faith. Work out that journey in faith; stay true to the Church and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.More use of multiple media platforms to retain the younger generation while not doing away with ways to reach the older generation21Continue working with our youth on events like World Youth Day, concerts, retreats and spirituality experiences, and fun activitiesCreate a forum for young people to express their viewsSeminarians need to teach Catholic doctrine well so it is proclaimed courageously so the laity know and love it.Seminaries must take an active part in teaching their students about disability and how it can be overcome in church settingsAllow qualified lay persons to run the administrative end of parishes and allow the clergy to concentrate on the pastoral ministry for which they were trainedFaithful Catholic women’s organizations need to be recognized and not dependent on pastors or bishops for approvalsWe are in difficult times. Open the door to the church to anyone who wants to hear the Gospel without discriminationConsolidate common ministries (serve the poor, etc.) to be more effective rather than every parish doing their own little bitPARISH:Listen and let the Holy Spirit take control of our judgments, moving toward consensus. This is the fruit of communal discernment serving the evangelizing mission of the ChurchBe warm and welcoming to all who come through the church doorThe pastor should be sensitive to socio-cultural differences and encourage activities that bring everyone together in the churchThe need for dialogue to address prejudices and reconciliation should be addressedParish Councils that represent all the people to bring about full inclusion with feedback on decisions takenGuidance for parishioners on what a Synodal Church isListen to the needs of the parishioners without rushing to judgement on why a need might be a reality.Implement excellent catechesis programs for children, adolescents, young adults, and adults so that they do not leave the Church and so that they understand the beauty, history, and clear path the Church offers to GodTeach the different kinds of prayerMore Eucharistic Adoration and understanding of the True PresenceMore spiritual growth and Scripture study groupsHelp divorced women to know that they are still welcome to the EucharistTrain lay ministers (leadership, values and principles, effective communication, conflict resolution, etc.) to prepare parishioners to be open to all22Recruit Catholic children regardless of income as students in Catholic schools and restore the preeminence of teaching the Catholic faith in Catholic schoolsImplement listening sessions in the parish on a regular basis with follow-through. Create an atmosphere where persons can feel comfortable speaking openlyHave a point person from each parish (not the clergy) to bring ideas that are being promoted nationally and from the Vatican to the parishCONCLUSION:From the above one can learn that our WUCWO women are eager to embrace a more Synodal Church and that they thoughtfully and sincerely offer potential pathways and solutions to issues that are preventing our reaching that goal. It is apparent from the responses received that there is great variation in the embrace of this goal from one diocese to another due to non-support or lack of attention by some bishops and priests who are reluctant to try new ways perhaps out of fear of losing power or authority. Clericalism surfaced as the most often cited impediment to a Synodal Church from every region of the world. This will be difficult but essential to eradicate if we are to become a Church that listens, walks, and discerns together. WUCWO being an organization for women, it is not surprising that the second most cited issue concerned the role of women in the Church which we gratefully see expanding under Pope Francis but in many places held back due to traditional societal norms. Our Church can continue to lead the way in establishing the equal and complementary role of women and men. Overall, every region invoked the guidance of the Holy Spirit for this powerful, joyful, and hopeful process of walking together as a Synodal Church.WUCWO extends its profound gratitude to Cardinal Grech for his support of this brief but very welcomed survey. We are deeply honored to offer our results to present the views of faithful Catholic women world-wide to assist in preparation for the Synod on Synodality.May Mary, Queen of Peace, Patroness of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations, ask her Divine Son to bless the work and outcome of the Synod and the Holy Spirit to guide and bless the decisions made for our beloved Church.Prepared by Mary Elizabeth Stewart Blogoslawski, WUCWO Vice President General22 July 2022
MEETING WITH THE WOMEN OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE MEDITERRANEAN OCTOBER 2022 Dear friend,
With great joy, after two and a half years of communicating digitally, we can start again with face-to-face reunions: by the grace of God, we are organising the Third Meeting with Women from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, open to all WUCWO women who wish to participate, in Rafina, Athens, Greece, from 7 to 10 October 2022.
The Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, has encouraged us and gives us his blessing for the realisation of this meeting. The Bishop of the Greek-Byzantine rite of Athens, Mgr Nin, and our organisation, the Association of Greek Catholic Women, are waiting for us in Greece with open arms.
It is a great moment to develop together the theme “Women Builders of Peace in a Church which Goes Forth”. We will also be able to advance in formation for our pastoral action at the local level for the family and the role of women in the Church. We have invited the Under-Secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Prof. Gabriella Gambino. As we did in Amman, Jordan (2013) and in Bari, Italy (2016), we will have the possibility to listen to and learn from women engaged in their local churches.
It will also be an exceptional moment to show and share what each of our organisations is doing - there will be small tables where we will showcase projects and products, and sell some of them - and talk about collaborative action among member organisations.
All this and much more in a synodal atmosphere, where it will be possible to meet and talk with the future candidates for WUCWO President, who will be elected by the next Board at the Assisi Assembly in 2023.
Although the event will be held in the town of Rafina, Greece, at the Avra Hotel, there will be plenty of opportunities to get to know Athens and some of its wonders.
It is important to register before 6 June 2022 in order to be able to confirm reservations with the hotel. There is a quota of places already reserved which will be allocated as registrations come in. In the event of additional registrations, we will check with the hotel to see if there is availability.
Please find attached a provisional programme and registration form.
For those who wish, an optional sightseeing tour can be arranged. Please find attached the relative information.
After such a long time of not being able to meet face to face, I believe that the Holy Spirit is leading us to a meeting that prepares our General Assembly in Assisi, as if it were a “pre-assembly”, where the women of WUCWO can dream together of a renewed Church and WUCWO, hand in hand with Mary, Queen of Peace.
I look forward to seeing you in Athens 2022 and wish you a Holy Easter.
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO - UMOFC
REGISTRATION FORM for the WUCWO CONFERENCE WITH WOMEN FROM THE MIDDLE EAST
7-10 October 2022, Athens, Greece
Please return to the Secretariat by/A retourner avant le/ Para enviar antes del
June 6, 2022
Date of birth:
(Date de naissance/Fecha de nacimiento)
Country of birth:
(Pays de naissance/País de nacimiento)
Date of arrival in Athens:
(Date d’arrivée à Athens/Fecha de llegada a Atenas) Time of arrival in Athens:
(Heure d’arrivée à Athens/Hora de llegada a Atenas)
Date of departure from Athens:
(Date de départ d’Athens/Fecha de salida de Atenas)
Time of departure from Athens:
(Heure de départ d’Athens/Hora de salida de Atenas)
Hotel Avra Rafina
• These prices include from lunch on the 7th to breakfast on the 10th. Please ask for rates for extra meals/nights.
• Ces prix comprennent du déjeuner du jour 7 au petit-déjeuner du jour 10. Veuillez demander les tarifs pour les repas/nuits supplémentaires.
• Estos precios incluyen desde el almuerzo del día 7 hasta el desayuno del día 10. Consultar tarifas para comidas/noches extras.
Single room €800.00*
(Chambre simple/Habitación individual)
Double room €600.00* (per person)
(Chambre double/Habitación doble)
Solidarity fee for Middle East Women €100.00
(Contribution de Solidarité poul les femmes du Moyen Orient/Cuota de Solidaridad para las Mujeres del medio Oriente)
(Besoins particuliers/Requerimientos especiales) Other amount (Autre/Otra) ________
*Payment method by June 6, 2022:
Draft in Euros to/Virements en Euros à/Transferencia en Euros a
BANCO BPM – Roma AG. 4 ITALIA
IBAN: IT54 V 05034 03204 0000 0000 9442
After having completed the payment please send a copy of the bank transfer receipt to the Secretariat./Une fois cela fait, s'il vous plaît envoyer le reçu du virement au Secrétariat./ Una vez realizado el pago, favor de enviar el comprobante de la transferencia al Secretariado.
THIS IS A SUGGESTED PROGRAM THAT YOU ARE FREE TO BOOK WITH THE GREEK TOURISM AGENCY(WUCWO will not be responsible for booking any tour)The offer is based on a 4 days / 3 nights program that will cover sightseeings that are among the most famous of theGreek mainland and a 4 nights extension that will include an island break in the Aegean Sea catching the trueessence of the Greek spirit.Please, for more information and to book the tour, contact Grecia Go (www.greciago.com), the Greek touristagency, by email: Pantelis Karavatas, Managing Director email@example.comSUGGESTED PROGRAM: Magnificent Greek Mainland4 days / 3 nights – Pickup at the Avra Hotel in Rafina on Monday, October 10, at 8.15 amAll prices are intended per person in double roomOption A: Private Bus (minimum 15 people required)Price per person 3* Hotel: 568€Price per person 4* Hotel: 619€Option B: Private Mini-Van (minimum 6 people required)Price per person 3* Hotel: 731€Price per person 4* Hotel: 783€Option C: Private Car (capacity 2 people)Price per person 3* Hotel: 731€Price per person 4* Hotel: 783€Option D:One night stay in Athens on Monday and tour next day on TuesdayPrice per person 3* Hotel: 524€Price per person 4* Hotel: 579€Single Room Supplement for above options3* hotel is 35.00€ / night4* hotel is 44.00€ / night** It is essential to know 20 days in advance the names of the participants and payment should be cleared 15 daysbefore the tour commences.Program itinerary1st Day: Leave by the coastal road, passing the Corinth Canal, where we will make a shortstop, and drive on theTheatre of Epidavros, famous for its remarkable acoustics. We proceed to the town of Nafplio (short photo stop) anddrive on to Mycenae. We will visit the Archaeological Site and the Tomb of Agamemnon. Then depart for Olympiathrough Central Peloponnese and the towns of Tripolis and Megalopolis. Overnight in Olympia (Dinner).2nd Day: In the morning we will visit The Sanctuary of Olympian Zeus, The Ancient Stadium, and the ArchaeologicalMuseum. Then drive on through the plains of Achaia until the magnificent bridge which is crossing the CorinthianBay. We pass by the picturesque towns of Nafpaktos and Itea and end up in Delphi. Overnight in Delphi (Dinner)3rd Day: In the morning we visit the local Archaeological Site and the Museum. Depart for famous Kalambaka andthe astonishing complex of Meteora featuring gigantic rock formations and astonishing Monasteries. Overnight inKalambaka (Dinner)4th Day: Visit Meteora, among striking scenery, perched on top of huge rocks that feel like standing in mid-air, standageless Monasteries where you can witness exquisite specimens of Byzantine art. We return to Athens via Trikala,Lamia, and Thermopylae (we make a short stop to see Leonida's Monument - Battle of 300). We arrive in Athensearly in the evening.Note: In order for women to be able to visit the Monastery they need to wear a skirt and gentlemen long trousers.Program Extension1 Night in Athens3 Nights Aegean Cruise (Mykonos Island, Kusadasi (Turkey), Patmos Island, Crete Island (Heraklion), Santorini Island)Price per person in Double Room/Cabin: 539.00€(Price calculated in 3* Hotel in Athens and Internal Cabin)Price per person in Double Room/Cabin: 689.00€(Price calculated in 4* Hotel in Athens and External Cabin)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY CELEBRATION 4 MARCH 2022
Vatican, 12 July 2021
Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State REPORT FROM THE WUCWO REPRESENTATIVE TO THE 2021 NCCW CONVENTIONIn the two years since we last met, WUCWO has been busy, even after COVID-19 called a halt to in-person meetings and events. WUCWO pivoted swiftly to Zoom meetings available with translation and continued with our work. The following is a very brief summary of what WUCWO and I, as your representative to the WUCWO Board, have been up to!MEETINGS:In January 2019, a private meeting was held with WUCWO’s principals and His Holiness, Pope Francis, in his private library. Of course, this was an extraordinary experience that will be treasured. He recognized that WUCWO represents the Catholic women of the world and from that meeting, WUCWO has been consulted and present for many of the movements and events sponsored by the different Dicasteries and Pontifical Councils at the Vatican. From that meeting, WUCWO also received and accepted an offer of renting spacious accommodation for our Secretariat in a Vatican-owned complex that is at less rent than we were paying previously and is secure by contract for 12 years.Attended Zoom meetings with the Undersecretary for the Dicastery of Laity, Life and Family; the Dicastery for Promoting Human Integral Development; the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; and the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. Helped plan and attended the WUCWO EC meetings and the WUCWO Board and Formation in-person and later Zoom meetings. It was determined that the WUCWO Board will continue to meet once a year in person but have more frequent Zoom meetings in between. Attended the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women meetings virtually; presented at two sessions and submitted a complete report to the WUCWO Secretariat. Continued to attend (virtually after COVID-19) other pertinent sessions at the UN in New York and continued to coordinate the International Working Group for WUCWO.Participated in WUCWO’s collaboration in the launch of the 7-year plan wanted by Pope Francis to achieve the 7 Sustainable Goals of Laudato Si'. Consequently, I accepted an invitation from the Dicastery for Promotion of Integral Human Development to co-chair of the Organization and Groups section based at the Vatican for Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform. This will be a 7-year project and our section is proceeding well with Zoom sessions, meeting our deadline goals for actions and documents.I accepted a request from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to be a panelist for a presentation viewed by over 1400 at the initial broadcast on Justice and Issues of Small Island Developing States and Territories.I received and accepted an invitation from Cardinal Tagle to a meeting of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples that will be in 2022.Attended the worldwide Zoom meeting to celebrate WUCWO’s 110th Anniversary and Mass. The event also celebrated the contributions of Father Whelan, WUCWO Ecclesiastical Assistant for the past 9 years, who is leaving as a new position he has been given at the Gregorian will preclude his ability to continue as WUCWO’s EA. I wrote the farewell from the WUCWO NA Region and incorporated Irish Gaelic into the talk as he is from Ireland. He responded in Irish. A beautiful and emotional celebration. Represented WUCWO at the National Prayer Vigil for Life in DC.Participated in the International Day of Prayer and the Awareness of Human Trafficking events as WUCWO was asked to co-chair both events with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.Attended the WUCWO webinar, Women in the Church: The Challenge of Synodality that introduced the first woman Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops and the first woman with a vote at that Synod.We are working on the WUCWO meeting with the Catholic women of the Middle East that will be held in Athens, Greece and our General Assembly that will be held in Assisi, Italy.Of course, much time was spent on preparing our WUCWO North America Region Conference that was held on Tuesday, the day prior to the start of this Convention. I enjoyed the prep and the event and hope that those present had a grand day.WRITING:Wrote the prayer for this year’s focus for WUCWO which is on Resolution #3: Elimination of discrimination and Violence against women. Wrote the WUCWO Prayer Service for 2021 that all member organizations were asked to use for their celebration of WUCWO Day 2021. Both of these are found on the WUCWO website (www.wucwo.org).Provided information for a training program for new WUCWO Board membersWrote the minutes for all WUCWO Board meetings and provided proofreading for the English version of the WUCWO magazine, Women’s Voice.Wrote the Quadrennial Report for the UN from WUCWO and the WUCWO report for the UN Department of Global Communications.Sent updates to WUCWO member organizations in North America and relayed requests from WUCWO for information to those organizations.FINANCIAL:Continue to take care of banking for WUCWO in the US; completed the forms required for charitable status with the bank used in the US; and made transfers from the US to WUCWO’s banks in Paris and Rome.Continue to serve on the WUCWO Endowment Fund Board. This Endowment Fund was started by Canada, abides strictly by Canadian law, and holds contributions from other countries as well.Obtained incorporation and 501(c)(3) status in the US for WUCWOMISCELLANEOUS:WUCWO 110th ANNIVERSARY CONTINUESDue to the fact that COVID-19 curtailed or ended celebrations of WUCWO’s 110th Anniversary around the world in 2020, the WUCWO Board voted to continue the celebration through 2021. A special Anniversary Committee has been formed.New Publication From WUCWO:With the support of Prof. Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, WUCWO published a booklet on the prevention of abuse in families and schools. The booklet is Women as Agents to Safeguard and Prevent Child Abuse in Families and Schools. To date, it has been translated from English into French, Spanish, Italian, Korean, and Urdu.WUCWO is supporting beatification effort for a Former WUCWO President General:Pilar Bellosillo was a woman unconditionally devoted to the service of God in the Church. She worked actively for ecumenism and all that amounted to progress in dialogue and reconciliation. She was instrumental in writing several sections of Gaudium et Spes, and served as one of the few women with voice at Vatican II. She was WUCWO President General from 1961 to 1974 and WUCWO has now joined other organizations and dioceses in promoting her cause for beatification.
At the WUCWO June 2021 Board meeting, we approved the creation of the Worldwide Observatory for Women (or WOW) that will address women’s issues from a Catholic viewpoint using social anthropological methods and that will produce reports translated into several languages that will be disseminated widely.
Increased use of Social Media platforms such as Facebook has promoted and made known WUCWO efforts. A new communication group for WUCWO has been formed using WhatsApp and is very active indeed.
Two training seminars were held focused on the Elimination of Violence Against Women: One in Africa and the other in Latin America.
There has been more, of course, but these highlights should serve to inform you of the excellent ever-growing and far-reaching work that has been accomplished by WUCWO.
As always, if you have any ideas, comments, or questions regarding WUCWO and our work, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Serving as our WUCWO Rep from the US and as the Vice President General of WUCWO, Vice President for North America, and International Rep to the UN for WUCWO in NY continues to be an extraordinary experience for which I am ever grateful. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity and I hope you find that my service in this position meets your expectations.
May Mary Queen of Peace, Patroness of WUCWO, ask her Divine Son to bless you, your families, and organizations with wisdom, joy, and peace.
Madame President, this concludes my report.
Maribeth Stewart Blogoslawski
REPORT FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT GENERAL AND THE VICE PRESIDENT NORTH AMERICA FOR THE WUCWO BOARD MEETING SEPTEMBER 2021Planned and held the WUCWO North America Region Conference that went very well though no one from Canada and Maria Lia could not attend due to pandemic travel restrictions. Video messages from Maria Lia, CWL Canada, and the Canadian Board member, Marusia, were well received. The President of the NCCW USA, Jean Kelly, and the Supreme Lady of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary, Micaela Leblanc, delivered in-person messages. All four of the WUCWO Resolutions were discussed and the 110th birthday of WUCWO was celebrated.The Friends of NCCW for WUCWO voted to combine their WUCWO Endowment Fund with the WUCWO Endowment Fund held in Canada. Awaiting instructions from Canada on the best way to do this.Attended the Convention of the National Council of Catholic Women USA as their Immediate Past President and the USA WUCWO representative. Reported to NCCW and to the Friends of NCCW for WUCWO about the activities of WUCWO. The NCCW installed their new President, Patricia Voorhes.The CWL Canada held their national convention virtually and installed their new president, Fran Lucas.
WUCWO BOARD MEETING OF SEPTEMBER 2021A two-day Board meeting was held via Zoom to learn updates from the Standing Committees (Finance, International, Statutes, and Communications) and Working Groups (Four Groups each addressing one of the WUCWO Resolutions). In addition, the Board voted to postpone the Meeting with the Women of the Middle East to 2022 (from November 2021) and the next General Assembly to be held in Assisi, Italy to 2023 due to COVID travel restrictions. Another notable item discussed was a new Decree from the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life which is the Dicastery (Vatican office) that oversees WUCWO. The Decree states that: 1) All major decisions made by an association that falls under the Dicastery’s oversight must be made by the members of the association. This does not change anything for WUCWO since the Board is the governing body and all changes to the WUCWO Statutes are adopted at General Assemblies following voting by member organizations’ delegates. 2) The term of office for a Moderator (which for WUCWO is the President General) cannot exceed ten years and there is no possibility of holding this office again. The WUCWO Statutes will need to be modified to accommodate this change. 3) The term of a member of the governing body (which for WUCWO is the Board) shall be 5 years with the possibility of renewing once for a maximum continuous time on the Board being 10 years. It will be possible for a Board member to serve again after a one term break in service. The WUCWO Statutes will need to be amended for this as currently, a Board member serves a 4-year term with the possibility of renewing twice for a maximum of 12 years. The Decree went into effect on 11 September 2021 and associations have 24 months from then to implement any necessary changes. These changes will not be drastic for WUCWO but were put into place because some other associations just don’t have any provision or inclination to change their president or governing bodies. The 24-month implementation period will allow for changes to be made to the Statutes at the next General Assembly slated for 2023 so there will not be any issues for WUCWO regarding this new Decree.
WUCWO/ HOLY SEE MEETINGS SEPTEMBER 2021The Embassy of France to the Holy See and the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations (WUCWO) held, in line with the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, an international conference by Zoom: The new pastoral style of Amoris Laetitia: welcoming, accompanying, discerning and integrating on 15 September 2021. The conference featured Oranne de Mautort, theologian and co-author of the book Familles, belles et fragiles! and Dr Gabriella Gambino, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.
A by-invitation only Zoom meeting was held on 16 September with the Dicastery of Laity, Family, and Life to discuss the philosophy behind the new Decree described above. I attended (though it began at 3am my time!) and enjoyed the discussions that were led off by His Holiness, Pope Francis, and that featured talks from theologians and from Dr. Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary for Laity from the Dicastery. Linda had provided a lovely letter of greetings for our WUCWO NA Region Conference.
A meeting of the Vatican’s Working Group for Organizations for Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform was held via Zoom on 14 September to discuss upcoming assignments and work to be done. As a co-chair of this Group, I was happy to attend.
Wishing all who read this the blessings of joy and peace though the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace,
Maribeth Stewart Blogoslawski UNITED NATIONS -SEPTEMBER 2021:In- person attendance at the UN in NY is still prohibited due to COVID restrictions at least through the end of October 2021. Accordingly, I have attended one session since our NCCW Convention on 7 September via Zoom at the invitation of the Office of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN. It was the High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace on the theme “Transformative Role of The Culture of Peace: Promoting Resilience and Inclusion in Post-Covid Recovery." The statement made by H. E. Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations was quite comprehensive and powerful. In essence, he stated:COVID-19 has deeply impacted humanity on an individual and societal level. Families have lost loved ones, lock-downs have impoverished human relationships and interactions, disrupted economies, and inequalities have been further exposed and exacerbated. Now is the time to rebuild with an approach steered by peace and fraternity and with more resilience and inclusion than before. He went on to discuss this in terms of three areas: Resilience and inclusion in human relationships: While we recover economically from COVID-19, we must also recover socially by rekindling and mending human relationships. As Pope Francis underlined, in his Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti, we need a recovery of kindness in everyday life.Resilience and inclusion of the poor and vulnerable: The COVID-19 pandemic blatantly exposed the plight of the poor and those on the margins of our society; true recovery requires putting them first. Our inclusivity and, to a certain extent, our resilience can be measured by how our societies treat the poorest and those in vulnerable situations, especially in times of crisis. Only in respecting their dignity and valuing their contribution can they be truly integrated into society.Resilience and inclusion of the environment: Finally, we must also reconsider our culture of consumerism and its impact on our common home. Our economic systems, production patterns, energy use, and how we live our daily lives can only be resilient if they are sustainable. The negative impacts of excessive consumption and most notably climate change, disproportionately affect the poor and those in vulnerable situations. -Maribeth