· Vatican City ·

Observatory

Women theologians, the baton passes to the third generation

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29 May 2021

 “I hope that the awareness of contributing to a beautiful, useful, fruitful work will help her bear the fatigue. That she knows how to preserve the memory. And that she succeeds in surprising”. These are Cristina Simonelli’s three wishes for her successor at the helm of the Coordinamento teologhe italiane (CTI) (Italian Women Theologians Coordination) to be handed over from  June 5, the date of the assembly, during which the secretariat and the board will be renewed, at least in part, as well as the presidency. Eighteen years after its foundation, the Coordinamento is going through an important juncture. This the second. “The first took place in 2013 when there was a change of guard between the creator, Mariella Perroni, and myself. Now I am finishing my second term of office and I am leaving, as the statute states. A necessary alternation. With each change, we pass the baton on to the next generation. So that the 'new recruits' do not remain students for life but become mothers and teachers”, she explains.

After the pioneering phase of the foundation, Cristina Simonelli concentrated on the structuring and functioning of the CTI, which now has 161 members, including those who have completed a theological training course or are professionally involved in the discipline. The group also includes a dozen men. “We are not a separatist group nor a corporation: we assume difference but live it through reciprocal relationships, with a critical and transformative framework. The Coordination is a plural space, in all senses. We do not have a single point of view on ecclesial current affairs. Our motto is, “I do not excommunicate you”. We cultivate theological studies from a gender perspective, in the conviction that sexual difference is the great cultural removal. Putting this into words is also indispensable for theology”. Theology is a science that is always interrogating, because of its nature, which is elusive by definition, and because the subject who practices it is historically and socially situated. “Being women, from this point of view, comes before our confessional differences. The CTI, therefore, as an ecumenical place, and indicates a working perspective for the Church. A workshop for planning, support for those taking their first steps in the discipline, a place for discovering new talents. The association wants above all to be ‘a quiet force’. “We do not like pamphlets or bombastic proclamations. At the same time, however, in these eight years, I have felt free to speak with great hindrance. Not only about the Church, but also about God and the world. A freedom rooted in meaning. And for this reason it is authentic, respectful and daring”.

By Lucia Capuzzi
A journalist with the Italian national newspaper, Avvenire