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​A manifesto for women in the Church

The Manifesto per le donne nella Chiesa [manifesto for women in the Church] which was recently published on its website www.glistatigenerali.com was born from the shared journey of about 30 women belonging to various ecclesial realities throughout Italy. “Through the method of life revision, tried out for the first time in a Facebook group, we based our reasoning”, the signatories explain, “on what we have lived but also on what we hope for in the light of the Word of God, knowing full well that we are not theologians but simply women believers who feel themselves to be daughters of the Church and know that they can speak heart to heart to their pastors and to the whole community. This document on the one hand sums up what, as women, we have experienced and are experiencing in the Christian communities and on the other hand represents a declaration of intentions as to how we wish to act in the Church, even more than what we want to do more generally”. After publication those who follow the project’s Facebook page were also offered the possibility of putting their names to it: in a couple of days the number of signatures tripled. Evidently the clear and well-argued message had hit the target. The requests that the manifesto proposes are precise. “We ask for: respect for our commitment, the possibility to express a service that is consistent with our competences and capacities; that the priests to whom our communities are entrusted know and appreciate the feminine, that they have healthy and serene relations with women, that they are psychologically mature people; that they take into consideration the fact that the search for female vocations has opened new and more structured horizons, in a maturation of perspectives that necessitates attention and responses; that the possibility for women to come close to the heart of ecclesial life is recognized, and that due value is given to their authentic wish to take part in a more active ministry, including the sacramental ministry. And it is thus legitimate and directed to the good of the entire Church to begin to conceive of concrete responses in this area. We are not substitutes for action but can “invent” new forms which enrich the Church. We do not seek positions of power but rather to be fully recognized as daughters of God and members of the community on the same footing as men”. For this reason, the authors continue, “we are ready to put ourselves at the service of the Church with three defining qualities: Assertiveness: we do not fear to propose or seek recognition for what we do and bring to the community; Freedom: our action does not aim to gain prestigious posts and this puts us in conditions where we are not liable to be open to blackmail; A female alliance: wherever we are and among ourselves we choose to be allies of the sisters we meet and above all not to fall into rivalry with other women in order to obtain male approval”. Thus the manifesto concludes: “We have decided to get together with adult women, who have lived and are living a path of faith, in order to share and to exchange ideas and we are prepared to accept all those who decide to join us. We want to give a clear message on the female gender, which we consider the Church needs. We desire to make ourselves known in order to attest that there are women in the Church who do not submit, and to be able thereby also to bring close other sisters in the faith who feel disoriented by the wave of traditionalism. We shall not give up carrying ahead serious and important demands”.

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June 21, 2018

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