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The Ideas

The prophetic voice
of women

 La voce profetica delle donne  DCM-009
01 October 2022

In the essay that opens this issue of Women Church World, theologian Cettina Militello writes, “Women’s prophecy is steeped in the present, in a critical look at the present, and for this very reason is open to the future”. This is what characterises the women we report on here. They are not visionaries; they do not preach a distant future. Their prophecy is an instance of freedom, an intelligence of events, and a capacity for vision: with an attentive mind to what is happening, they speak and work so that the world does not lose itself and becomes more just and united. They overcome gender; geographical, cultural and religious barriers are committed to justice, peace, and care for creation.

They are women who initiate processes of change if they perceive that everything is coming to a dangerous standstill and bring forward practically feasible demands for renewal. Even if at times they seem to be chasing a utopia, they focus on the essential instead. They are rebellious but practical.

Affected by typhus, Maria Domenica Mazzarello, foundress of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, changed her life’s direction: she no longer had the physical strength to work in the fields, so she became a seamstress, opened a workshop, and thus began to work with who would later be called the Salesians sisters. There were about ten at the beginning, today this religious congregation is almost a multinational in number and presence throughout the world with 11 thousand women scattered throughout the five continents. The female prophets of the times we live in often use the word against false prophets, the nostalgias of a world gone by, affected by what Pope Francis calls the “going back-ism”.

The voice of Mariangela Gualtieri, an Italian poet who does not only entrust her texts to the written page, but also performs them in the theatre, is prophetic.

As is the voice of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Australia’s first Aboriginal poet, activist, artist and educator.  We also recount the life and times of Dorothee Solle, a German Protestant theologian, her conception of God and man, focus on pacifist approaches, and her feminist and ecological movements. In addition, there are the three American women’s rights pioneers Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They have been immortalized in the first statue in New York’s Central Park dedicated to real women, not fictional characters. Theirs is a monument to skill and courage.