Indian Christian Women’s Movement 1st National Convention ‘Women Take Wing’
PRESS RELEASE 13th August, 2018
About 100 women including nuns and ordained women from churches all over India strongly condemned the weak institutional response of the church to gender violence faced by women in the Church.
The women were attending the first National Convention of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement (ICWM) at Jnanadeepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, on the theme ‘Women take Wing’.
In her keynote address, Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Advanced Center for Women’s Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, traced the history of Indian women’s movement and the importance and relevance of ICWM in this larger context.
The delegates, cutting across age, region and Christian denomination expssed dissatisfaction at the lack of voice, role and decision making for women in Church structures, and declared their determination to struggle for justice equality, dignity and rights for women, children, Dalits, Tribals, Transgender people and LGBQIA.
They resolved to work together to enhance women’s participation, representation, decision making in the Church and related structures.
In the new normal of sexual violence and polarization in the country, and the abuse of women’s and children’s bodies to settle political and communal scores, the ICWM resolved to partner and work in solidarity with civil society groups and movements in the ongoing battle for justice for survivors and their families.
Recent statements by Pope Francis and top Vatican officials support the need to bring more lay women to top leadership positions at the Roman Curia. However, Voices of Faith is concerned about the apparent difficulties and lack of transparency in regard to how those women are chosen and the process undertaken to appoint them. In an extensively quoted interview with Reuters on June 17th 2018, Pope Francis is reported saying, “I don't have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery." At the same time, he talks about difficulties in finding the right candidates and convincing curial officials to accept women for leadership positions. The Prefect of the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, stated that the Vatican is "overloaded with clerics" and that "administrative functions within the church can be done by anybody" including laity.
Today, Thursday 7th June We Are Church Ireland is launching a petition calling on Pope Francis to change Vatican theological language that is gravely insulting to LGBTQI people.
Words like 'objectively disordered ' and ' intrinsically evil' to describe any human being is wrong but for an institution like the Catholic Church to teach that these words are an expression of the mind of God to describe her image in LGBTQI persons is not alone scandalous but blasphemous.
The petition is being launched by Ursula Halligan of WAC Ireland, Senator David Norris and Pádraig Ó Tuama of the Corrymeela Community.
Find the petition on Change.org at:
'We Are Church Ireland encourages every Catholic who continues to be enraged by this Vatican Un-Christian language to sign the petition demanding the withdrawal of this offensive language to describe our LGBTQI sisters and brothers' stated Brendan Butler.
Brendan Butler, We are Church spokesperson.
Mobile 086 4054984
7 June 2018
To all Catholic Women,
Catholic Women Speak and Voices of Faith have collaborated to write an open letter to Pope Francis appealing for greater participation of and dialogue with women in the worldwide Church. They have asked for our support of this effort to open a meaningful dialogue with women in the church so that women can have a more "decisive" presence in the universal Church. Please read the letter and, if you agree, you are invited to sign the letter and, in turn, circulate it to your networks.
As you will see, the letter is supportive of Pope Francis and seeks to open up a dialogue. The creators of this website believe it is important to express our concerns about the language used to describe women, and this letter strives to do so gently - not to provoke a confrontation
Here is the link to the website with the letter and the signature form: We are grateful in advance for your support.
It is worth reflecting on Bishop Michael Curry's address at the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on 19 May 2018. Bishop Michael is the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA.
"And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
From the Song of Solomon, in the Bible: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
The late Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, and I quote: 'We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.'
There's power in love. Don't underestimate it. Don't even over-sentimentalise it. There's power, power in love.
If you don't believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to centre around you and your beloved. Oh there's power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There's a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it - it actually feels right. There is something right about it. And there's a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant - and are meant - to be lived in that love. That's why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself: the source of all of our lives. There's an old medieval poem that says: 'Where true love is found, God himself is there'. The New Testament says it this way: 'Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God.' Why? 'For God is love.'
- There's power in love.
- There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can.
- There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.
- There's power in love to show us the way to live.
Set me as a seal on your heart... a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death.
But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we're all here. Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up. But it's not just for and about a young couple, who we rejoice with. It's more than that.
Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses, and he went back and he reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.'
And then in Matthew's version, he added, he said: 'On these two, love of God and love of neighbour, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world... love God, love your neighbours, and while you're at it, love yourself.' Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history.
A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world - and a movement mandating people to live that love, and in so doing to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I'm talking about power. Real power. Power to change the world.
If you don't believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America's Antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way. They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It's one that says 'There is a balm in Gilead...' a healing balm, something that can make things right. 'There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.' And one of the stanzas actually explains why. They said: 'If you cannot preach like Peter, and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all.' Oh, that's the balm in Gilead! This way of love, it is the way of life. They got it. He died to save us all.
He didn't die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn't... he wasn't getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world... for us. That's what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centred. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world. If you don't believe me, just stop and imagine.
- Think and imagine a world where love is the way.
- Imagine our homes and families where love is the way.
- Imagine neighbourhoods and communities where love is the way.
- Imagine governments and nations where love is the way.
- Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way.
- Imagine this tired old world where love is the way.
When love is the way - unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.
- When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.
- When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.
- When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.
- When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.
- When love is the way, there's plenty good room - plenty good room - for all of God's children.
Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well... like we are actually family.
- When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.
My brothers and sisters, that's a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family.
And let me tell you something, old Solomon was right in the Old Testament: that's fire. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - and with this I will sit down, we gotta get you all married - French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century. Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a mystic. In some of his writings, he said, from his scientific background as well as his theological one, in some of his writings he said - as others have - that the discovery, or invention, or harnessing of fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history.
- Fire to a great extent made human civilisation possible.
- Fire made it possible to cook food and to provide sanitary ways of eating which reduced the spread of disease in its time.
- Fire made it possible to heat warm environments and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates.
- Fire made it possible - there was no Bronze Age without fire, no Iron Age without fire, no Industrial Revolution without fire.
- The advances of fire and technology are greatly dependent on the human ability and capacity to take fire and use it for human good. Anybody get here in a car today? An automobile? Nod your heads if you did - I know there were some carriages. But those of us who came in cars, fire - the controlled, harnessed fire - made that possible. I know that the Bible says, and I believe it, that Jesus walked on the water. But I have to tell you, I did not walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here.
- Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other.
Fire makes all of that possible, and de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love - it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.
Dr King was right: we must discover love - the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world.
My brothers, my sisters, God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love."
Representatives from countries around the world.
Pictured, Sigrid Grabmeier, We Are Church (Germany) hands the Chair of the Council to Colm Holmes, We Are Church (Ireland).
A personal reflection from Colm Holmes
25 delegates from 12 countries attended meetings in Rome where much was discussed and ideas shared.
For me there were two highlights:
- Our Prayer Vigil close to St Peter’s at 10pm on St Patrick’s Day
- Our shared Eucharist
Those were two very special occasions where we prayed and shared at a deeper level with the Holy Spirit very present.
On the Friday we had a Joint meeting with the European Network Church on the Move (EN-RE). Martha Heizer shared her experiences from the AYA/ATP meeting in Indonesia where young leaders from 10 Asian countries discussed how they deal with life and death issues. Edson Silva presented an overview on Liberation Theology which led right up to the assassination of Marielle Franco, a young woman Council Member in Rio on 14 March 2018. We hope Edson’s paper will be translated into English.
The Joint meeting with EN-RE produced suggestions for 5 possible Joint Projects.
The WAC-International meetings included:
- Country Reports
- We have 21 members in 19 countries (2 members each in both France and Brazil)
- 500th anniversary of the Reformation witnesses outside and inside churches in 17 countries and 6 continents and using social media to share over 500 photos
- Red scarf Pentecost celebration
- 18 Press Releases issued
- Next WAC-International meeting will again be held in Rome at the end of March 2020.
- We linked up online with Ashik Naz Khokhar in Pakistan
- The election of our new Coordinating Team:
§ Chair Colm Holmes (Ireland)
§ Vice Chair Martha Heizer (Austria)
§ Communications Valerie Stroud (Great Britain)
- - Assistant Ashik Naz Khokhar (Pakistan)
§ Media coordinator Marianne Duddy Burke (U.S.A.)
§ Treasurer ? [Interim: Colm Holmes Ireland]
§ Membership In-Reach Martha Heizer (Austria)
- - Assistant Erik Westerberg (Sweden)
§ Outreach Jean-Pierre Schmitz (France)
- - Assistant Ed Schreurs (Netherlands)
Following up from the Council 50 meeting in Rome there is a large team working on the GCN Aparacida meeting in Brazil 15-18 November 2018 which has three titles:
- 2nd Global Forum of the People of God from Medellin 1968 to Aparacida 2018
- “EMPOWERING THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH AND IN SOCIETY”
- The Gospel challenged by globalization: justice, peace, democracy, environment, spirituality
The keynote speaker will be Leonardo Boff with many other Brazilian and international speakers.
My sincere thanks to all our members who give freely of their time, energy and expertise to help to reform our Church into a more Christ like body.