The Contribution of Women in the Church in the Context of Synodality...

on 12 Jan, 2023
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Venezuela, Sr. Nícida Amparo Díaz, 01/12/2023.- The contribution of women is an adequate help to humanity. Her contribution is an adequate, opportune, emerging help, because she, we make complementarity possible in our Church; we, together with our brothers, the men, we are opening the horizon to walk together towards unity. Not only to walk together, but to walk towards unity.

Convinced that, in our differences, we are weaving that unity which makes our preaching of the Kingdom of God credible. Men and women or women and men, the perspective is set by each one from where he/she stands, but let it be in freedom and with the evangelical spirit and the Dominican spirit of contributing and acting from God who shows us the way and accompanies us on our journey. The contribution that women make in the Church in the context of synodality is based on the way they understand God, especially as women, which brings with it a greater responsibility and co-responsibility, because it implies bearing witness to a God who embraces all his sons and daughters with the same love, tenderness and compassion. A God who, in creating the human being, knows that "it is not good for man to be alone. That is why he gives him adequate help" (Conf. Gen 2,18), for "man alone is not yet complete. Adam needs a human “you”, a being who is at the same time similar and different; if he were only similar, a replica or double, he would not be his complement; and if he were only different, he would not be his companion".[1] With the creation of the woman, taken from the man, the creation of the man is completed and complemented. So, we have to say that synodality is woven in complementarity and from here we go together opening ways. To walk together, yes, but united in our differences, each one contributing from the gift we have received.

As we read and contemplate the Word of God, we find in it women who open paths of synodality from that fine intuition that allows them to be present at the right moment and to take initiatives: I allow myself to paraphrase Maria Teresa Porcile:

At Cana someone could have noticed that there was no wine, but it was a woman who did it. (Mary).

In Samaria, someone could have gone to the well in search of living water, but it was a woman who was present when Jesus arrived (the Samaritan woman).

In Bethany, someone could have perfumed the body of Jesus, but it was again a woman who had that attention, anticipating his burial (Mary of Bethany).

At Calvary, at the foot of the Cross, someone could have represented the discipleship, but it was the woman, the mother, the friends, who remained at all costs, accompanying Jesus' cruelest and most painful moment (His mother, His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene, there was also John).

In the tomb someone could have sought to wait and find, but it was Mary Magdalene who encountered the Risen One and was the first to be sent to bring the Good News to her brothers and sisters.

The authority of these women impels us to give continuity to God's will in our time and to procure his Kingdom of Justice and Peace, always taking the first step, not with the desire to be protagonists, but as co-responsible in the evangelizing mission.

1.       She will be a contribution when she genuinely lives her womanhood.

The contribution of women in the Church in the context of synodality will be more convincing when they genuinely live their being women, and consecrated women since baptism in whatever lifestyle they have felt called to; when they assume their commitment in creative fidelity, which makes fruitful and gives new life to the Church... In this reality they know that God will put the rest, and we with Him, will make possible the woman He dreamed and created: A gift for humanity and for the Church, therefore, "Woman, whatever state or profession she lives in, must first of all know how to realise her femininity" (Edith Stein).

Women by gift are intuitive, listen, discern, dialogue, create and recreate, take risks, shepherd inclusively, pedagogically; they are always there to give their word, their contribution... from their commitment in and as Church: Mothers and grandmothers have always transmitted the faith and educated their children and grandchildren in the experience of Christian life; nuns and religious have offered the Church the faithful word of prayer and wisdom. In the promotion of work, in ecological awareness, in education, etc., there is always the contribution of women.

Each with her own charism and convinced of her Christian identity, they strengthen their commitment to building a Church as the people of God, where all can sit around the same table and seek ways together. "The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood. " (EG 103).

But for the proposal of synodality to become a reality, we must unlearn the macho mentality and learn to think, reflect, preach from our being women with an inclusive and fraternal mentality, with the intuition and spiritual finesse that defines us. The contribution that "corresponds to women in the Church will come from the woman herself, who must be the protagonist of the change of mentality about herself: to feel that she is a subject of the ecclesial community. She must value herself deeply, trust in other women, accept the word spoken by them and collaborate in the decisions taken by some of them. It is the woman who must feel responsible and co-responsible for the mission entrusted by Jesus to all: men and women. This will be possible when we learn to live our identity genuinely (Conf. Maria Teresa Porcile. Women and ecclesial pronouncements).

2.       A contribution from her way of being and being in order to give reason for the hope that moves her...

The contribution of women has always borne the stamp of synodality, which is why their contribution has been key in the mission of the Church; Their word has shaped the post-conciliar Church, in the proclamation of the faith, in the various pastoral services in which the diaconia of women has been realised in all the local churches, where the priest does not reach, in the path of renewal of religious life, in the word of the women theologians who, after Vatican II, have been able to begin to study and teach in the pontifical universities, or by assuming some roles of responsibility at the level of the Roman Curia, of the dioceses and of the national pastoral ministries.

In this regard, the words of Pope Francis are very wise: "I am happy to acknowledge how many women share pastoral responsibilities alongside priests, contribute to the accompaniment of individuals, families or groups, and bring new contributions to theological reflection. But it is still necessary to widen the spaces for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace” and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures." (EG 103).

In this journey in synodality, we need to recognise ourselves in our fundamental identity, welcoming with humility and joy the gift that each one of us is for the Church and the world: women and men walking together as brothers and sisters, revealing the beauty of a new humanity, the one that God dreamed of and created from eternity.

[1] Juan Ruíz de la Peña. Imagen de Dios. Antropología Teológica. Pág. 35-36.