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Walking together

· ​Editorial ·

“I hope that in time women will come to do great things”. Mary Ward wrote these words four centuries ago, reflecting on the role of women in the Church and in the world. This issue of Women Church World wishes to bear witness to precisely this valuable work that women have performed, and continue to perform, as lively members of the Church and of other cultures and religious traditions. To do so it starts with a particular instance, from a cross section of the commitment of women in Catholic universities and theological faculties, especially in Italy.

In the round table “The voices of women”, edited by Silvia Guidi, women theologians, biblicists, historians and philosophers discuss on behalf of all women the conditions in each of their fields of research that help to bring out more distinctly women’s sensitivity and way of thinking. These conditions range from “knowledge of the different ways of interpreting being a woman in the Church” to the need to rediscover “a tradition of women which still speaks, which is still alive”, and to the application of a rigorous strictness in the elaboration of the categories under study and research into gender differences. Some people maintain that the desire to intensify connections between artistic creation, theology and spirituality, forms part of female sensitivity, while others cite women’s ability to find connections between contexts that are apparently widely separated and far apart. However, what specifically links these voices in conversation with one another is the desire to strive generally for a culture of reciprocity between men and women, in a relationship free from any subjection, in the awareness that the Church too, as the people of God, needs all energies, male and female, to be united for her evangelization. The challenge seems therefore to be that of collaborating, sharing spaces, combating clericalism in whatever form it may occur, as well as praying and thinking together, men and women together. If we listen with closer attention, from these voices, albeit indirectly, comes a very concrete invitation to all women to work together with loyalty and trust, passing on to the younger generation the desire to participate in a renewed process of “humanization”, which Carola Susani mentions in her review, and of the acceptance of “different” voices in which it is always possible to find fruitful points of meeting and dialogue, as is clearly shown by Shahrzad Houshmand Zadeh in her article on “Mary in the Qu’ran”.

Above all these women’s voices aim to inspire the Editorial Committee of this magazine in its effort to replot its route, to calibrate its steps, and to identify the goal of a journey that began seven years ago. A new worksite must be opened, Pope Francis declared to journalists on his return flight from Rio de Janeiro on 28 July 2013. Women Church World is ready to open it with courage, with love and in freedom, in fidelity to the Word, with a view to a single goal: to give the just recognition and the right opportunities to women’s work in every field, social and religious, and, at the same time, to foster communion and the unity of the Church. “The place at stake”, to readapt Anne-Marie Pelletier’s expression, is an authentic conversion of soul which permits the man-woman relationship to find a balance for the benefit of women, society and the different faiths. This will be possible only by combining the experiences and voices of both men and women in a common journey, free of subordination and subjugation.

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