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We live in times marked by change, but there are places where gender equality is being systematically overlooked. The Catholic Church is one of them.
Today, women are asking why the Church is so slow in recognising their value and opening governance and ministerial roles to them; roles that incorporate their faith, gifts, expertise and education into structures of authority at all levels.
Our world is facing a future more meaningful by the inclusion of women in significant positions. We will not let gender inequality undermine the longevity of the Church.
Our voices stir the winds of change, so we must speak. Will Pope Francis and our pastoral leaders listen?
Register to attend at https://voicesoffaith.org/event/
OR LIVE STREAM via the website 14:00 CET, 08:00 EST, 18:30 IST
Mumbai is a city that never sleeps. It is the industrial capital of India and much of the international business and offices are situated in the city, employing staff that are familiar with or getting familiar with the international culture. The lifestyle is fast and highly competitive for young professionals. With unforgiving workplaces that often result in people working anywhere between 8 to 14 hours a day mostly six days a week, young adults are quickly moving towards a burnout at an earlier stage of their lives. Thus, the underlying stress only seems to get carried over every weekend and entertainment or social networking becomes an easy outlet.
Amid all this, religion, faith and the family have a great potential to bring a balance in the lives of young people. However, many Christian youth in Mumbai are disillusioned by what is offered by the institution of the Catholic Church. I worked with youth for years as a student and a young professional and have had such discussions with numerous colleagues, classmates and neighbours. For this report, I invited over 20 youth to answer the questionnaire, and while all were interested, only eight could make enough time to answer a few questions and present their views about the Catholic Church. Most of the respondents informed me that they did not attend Mass regularly. They respected the Institution of the Church but could not relate to its current way of functioning. While all attended Mass regularly with their families when they were children, this practice has waned for most of them. Some found peace and solace in the quiet at home rather than the repetitive ceremony at Mass, while others found peace in the atmosphere of their church. Some attend only because they want to spend that time with the family or because of familial pressure (in Asia, most young adults either live with their parents or in-laws in a joint family system). Considering the stressful work life in Mumbai, some respondents simply chose to rest on Sunday. Mass isn’t the only place we find God. Sunday School prepared us to understand our faith, yet, it was better understood when we made our own inward journeys, analysed what we learned and applied it in our lives. Because of this, the compulsion or the dependence on Sunday Mass is reduced and we continue to live Christian lives and only attend Mass when our minds and bodies are prepared for it and are capable of making it a complete spiritual experience.
From the responses, it is evident that the youth feel that the church refuses to move with the times. However, all agreed that they noticed attempts by the hierarchy of the Church to catch up with the modern times (such as equality in the washing of the feet, mercy towards refugees, etc.), although the traditions still remain medieval. We have observed a contradiction that Christianity is about love but forces the followers to fear God with the threat of eternal damnation. The church must move ahead from believing that ‘only prayer can solve problems’ to a more realistic approach of ‘action can solve problems’ – keeping in mind the inequalities and poverty that exists in the world.
The Inter-Ecclesial meeting is a blend of faces, of people who come from around and from far away. They are welcome with the joy of a gathering that had been expected and prepared since long ago. The 14th Inter-Ecclesial meeting of the Base Cristian Communities in Brazil started with an Opening Celebration, full of symbolic meaning where the people of Londrina, land of migrants, received some 3,000 delegates from all over the country.
Pope Francis sent a message to the participants of the event. The letter was read out loud by the head of the Commission for the Lay People in the Brazilian National Conference of Bishops, where the pontiff expresses his “encouragement and blessings” to all participants. The letter says “God is never indifferent towards the suffering of the people” which urges Christians to “lead a personal life in which the light of the Gospel shines”, based on “love and solidarity”. The Pope continues to remind the CEBs to “hear de claims of the poor who hunger for God, for justice and bread” so that the communities may be – in society at large – an instrument of evangelization and promotion of each person.
Finally, the archbishop of Londrina, Geremias Steinmetz, mentioned the importance of defining a methodology to “approach both women and men, so distant and lost in the city, especially in the poor areas… the young people who personally suffer the most difficult problems of the city… the children… those who are the victims of diversity… punished simply because they are different.”
In keeping with the theme of Londrina Friar Betto (Dominican) spoke to the assembly and urged them to organize some kind of demonstration to show solidarity with former President Lula who is awaiting the judgement of the Court of Appeal. If the Court of Appeal upholds the sentence - nine and half years of imprisonment - Lula will not be able to run for president later on this year. This will please the leaders of the coup going on in Brazil at this time. Reelecting Lula as President is the only way to reverse all the setbacks we are facing concerning labor rights, access by multinational companies to natural resources, changes in the pension system which will make it almost impossible for the poor people to retire in their old age.
23 January 2018
People young and not so young have been gathering all day It is 7:30 pm in Brazil and they are starting the Opening Celebration of the 14th Inter-ecclesial Encounter of Base Cristian Comunities in the city of Londrina, state of Paraná, Brazil.
Delegates are coming from all over the country
Pictures by Daniel Seidel, an official delegate from the Faith and Politics Movement (nationwide).
The Forum of Asian Women Theologians known as Ecclesia of Women in Asia is just concluding their meeting in Saigoan. Two books were released at this meeting. One is an E-book available on Amazon. The title of the book is "Liberating Power - Asian Feminist theological Perspectives". It contains the papers presented at our 6th EWA conference.
The second book edited by me and another sister from India, Metti Amirtham SC was also released. This book is an anthology of the papers presented at our 7th EWA conference.
Both books contain articles written by me. This book will also be available on Amazon. The title is "The 21st century Woman Still Claiming Her Space."