The Synod on the family and women
It can be said that the primary challenge of the Synod, called to reflect on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world, is to combine teaching and mercy.
Pope Francis, steadily, urges this pastoral conversion that aims to make people touch and experience the goodness and tenderness of God the merciful Father. The family is the first place where one learns tenderness and human love, where " we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another " (EG 66) in which we learn respect, acceptance and mutual forgiveness. In this world " the individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds. Pastoral activity needs to bring out more clearly the fact that our relationship with the Father demands and encourages a communion which heals, promotes and reinforces interpersonal bonds " (EG 67). These difficulties call for further support, help so that the family can continue to be the gym of love, where we learn the art of weaving relationships, to accommodate different points of view, to overcome the barriers between generations and where everyone becomes aware of one’s own dignity.
As stated in the Instrumentum Laboris , women have a crucial role in the growth of the family and society. Women wait with confident hope for further support by the Synod for the recognition of their dignity. In too many places and realities women still find it hard to recognize and have the richness of their contribution acknowledged, essential for the Church and for society in various countries and continents. Too often, even within the Christian community, women are still faced with difficulties instead of being encouraged to fully realize their vocation. However, even if there is still a long path to go, we must also recognize the many advances that have been made in recent decades.
WUCWO women expect a strong desire from the Synod to support " a greater appreciation of their responsibility in the Church, namely, their involvement in the decision-making process, their participation — not simply in a formal way — in the governing of some institutions; and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers ."(IL 30)
Quality training continues to be the priority to help redefine to the family " the duties of the spouses in their reciprocity and common responsibility towards family life " (Ibid) so that all parents, sons and daughters can receive and live in full their vocation.
It is necessary to ensure that the family is the privileged place of the integral formation where " we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressivity and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm ” (LS 213). Those who will receive the first benefit are women who, we cannot forget, are the first victims of violence and difficulties.
It is for this reason that, for WUCWO, issues linked to the family such as migration, trafficking in human beings - where women and children are the first victims –conflicts, in which not only women but all Christians live in situations of minority, are very important.
Maria Giovanna Ruggieri
WUCWO President General