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Latin American women

“The Catholic Church, following the example of Jesus, must be very free from prejudices, from stereotypes and from the discrimination suffered by women. Christian communities must make a serious revision of life for a pastoral conversion which can ask forgiveness for all the situations in which they have been and still are today complicit in attacks on women’s dignity”. Starting with this reflection the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, chaired by Cardinal Marc Ouellet and held in the Vatican from 6 to 9 March elaborated a series of pastoral recommendations, proposing “seriously the question of a Synod of the universal Church on the subject of women”, following the Synods on the Family and on Young People.

Rufino Tamayo, “Women Reaching for the Moon” (1946)

At the heart of the declaration a theological view consisting of 14 points on the greatness of women’s dignity and vocations emerges, consistent with the Revelation, which Cardinal Ouellet himself described in depth in his interview with the sociologist María Lía Zervino. The texts presented in this issue retrace the difficulties, hopes and expectations of Latin American women in the Church today, with a range of voices that includes both laywomen and women religious who are active in ecclesiastical institutions. This is because, as Sr Mercedes Leticia Casas Sánchez, a Mexican working with migrants along the frontier with the United States, maintains, “following a 100-year-old tradition faith in this region is passed down through the female line”.

In all the articles the criterion is that of the paradigm of reciprocity as a key to perceiving the relationship between the feminine and the masculine, giving priority to the logic of the “together with” and of the “relationship”. The Brazilian theologian Maria Clara Bingemer maintains that “beside and beyond the traditional parish model where the services were excessively concentrated in the hands of the priest, in many of her dioceses the Church in Brazil has adopted the model of grass-roots ecclesial communities, a decision which has permitted many women to exercise their capacities for coordination and their gifts of direction and organization. For the historian María Luisa Aspe Armella “women are the best face of the Church in Mexico and throughout America”, since “we are not part of the Church’s structure, we are her infrastructure”. And the infrastructure is what cannot be seen but yet holds up the whole building. (silvina pérez)

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