World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations – World Assembly in Fatima, Portgual
22-28 October 2014
Each day began at 8.30 a.m. – all present and correct (I was taking the photo)
Opening Ceremony and welcome speech given by President General Maria Giovanna Ruggieri followed by an opening talk given by Dr Anna Cristina Villa Betancourt from the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Dr Anna’s talk was based on the messages from Pope Francis to encourage us for the conference “ ensure we had the encouragement to go out to act; do not allow ourselves to be robbed of joy, missionary enthusiasm and hope,of community or fraternal love, nor be robbed of the gospel. Evangelii Gaudeaum. There are many difficulties facing us in the world but to have the confidence to act wisely – Goodness tends to spread
First Panel talk – Sowing hope for the common good.
2 Speakers Maria Jose Pereira (USA & Portugal) and Teresa Dagdag (Phillipines)
Both speakers gave us thoughts on how we could be sowers of hope for the common good of humanity.
e.g. we need to change the way we give help/aid of food from one government to another. Our part is in the community, ask questions. Wear hope like a skin do not hide your positivity.
Use the inductive method to decide what measures to take
Workshops followed where we considered how the talks relate to our needs in each country. We were split into groups and for our replies which were presented to the conference.
The day ended with Mass at 7p.m. in the Chapel of the Death of Jesus.
Second Panel; How to be “Sowers of Hope” in different realities – this was portrayed as if it were a set of panellist on a TV show hosted by Basima Sam’an (Jordan)
1st speaker was due to be Laurentian Mallam – Minister of Environment Nigeria, unfortunately due to visa problems she was unable to attend so her report was relayed to the conference on her behalf.
She mentioned especially that in Nigeria they were very pleased to be planting trees and sowing seeds – part of the Great Green Wall project, which aims to create a wall of trees across Africa along the edge of the Sahara Desert.
There needs were for Advocacy, education of women, care of the poor.
Hope is light – we should be the mother of an open heart – Pope Francis
2nd speaker Margarita Zavala – (Mexico) human trafficking, refugees, immigration these were the themes that concerned her the most. We need to understand the reasons for migration before we can act. Again reinforce the method “see, judge and act”. Make sure we make informed decisions
3rd speaker Flaminia Giovanelli (Italy) The pope says there is a window of hope opened by God. Humanity seems to have closed the window on God. Africa, middle east conflicts. We have to hope in men and women. We are all the same, one body. Universal peace is open to each and every one of us.
There were questions from the floor:
- What can we say to our children to make it worth working and living for our world? Make them part of the action, include them. Show them through our actions. Have youth departments of your organisations.
- Do you think promoting complementarity between man and woman will help the understanding between men and women. I think we have to work much harder on the theme of violence against women, there should be no discrimination against women/women’s role in the family.
3 People do not present themselves for dialogue when requested to do so what advice can you offer. Pope Francis said peace is little by little, we have to build peace. Sometimes actions can bring big messages to the world.
- As catholic women we should tackle threats on the human body eg fgm, trafficking etc. We have organisations that are working on these subjects to reduce the problem.
- Does poor sanitation how can this affect your work. How can wucwo help to bring sustainability to the poorer countries. Ministries are working together to care for the environment
- Does the current economic climate cause human trafficking.
People have lost faith in the democratic process. Can we engage women in the political process.
Can Wucwo women help women subjected to trafficking.
So many reasons for children to leave countries, violence, fragmented families. Approach women Members of Parliament to get them on board with these subjects. Do it today.
Abortion gay marriage. Women ensured their voices are heard to uphold their wishes.
Workshops reported back to the meeting with some of the following points:
Understanding of the problem, patience, love – unconditionally. Catholic women of the world should say no to gay marriage. We should have a Wucwo day for tree planting to help the environment.
Women need to educate our women about recycling, to care for our environment. Wucwo should talk about how we control environmental problem.
Paedophiles, what can we do? Rape of children. Cross-Country organisations help each other.
Plastics killing the environment. We must partner with those in authority, politicians, organisations then we can discuss our points. Deforestation using charcoal not the fault of locals when it is businessmen.
Open the window to God, plant a tree, the sexualisation of children, return to quality time of family life, education of women at grass roots, children to keep them living with christian values, disappearance of youth from the church. Invite one youth from each continent for the next assembly.
Report on Synod of the Family. Co-habitation, welcoming homosexuals, divorced access to the Eucharist. Family is a cradle in which all are happy. Why do we still talk about the family in the singular. So many different types of family
From the Pope – look with hope to the future and act with love to the family –say thank you and I am sorry.
Day finished with 7p.m. mass in the Most Holy Trinity Basilica
Began again at 8.30 a.m. with the African Mass – very vibrant for so early in the morning – just what we needed!
So Day 3 was the business of the Statutory Assembly
Reports were given by the President General, Vice-President General and Secretary General. The Treasurers report was presented and the reports from International Representatives (United Nations ECOSOC New York; UNESCO Paris; United Nations Geneva; FAO Rome; Council of Europe Strasbourg).
Regional Meetings were held and we attended the Europe meeting – interesting when you consider there were several different languages to cope with and no translation devices so we had to wait for everything to be translated into French and Spanish.
All organisations gave an introduction to the work of their members and gave details of specific concerns in their member countries. e.g.
Germany Lack of priests making a possibility for women deacons to celebrate mass –
France Women’s equality in the church and concerns on paedophilia-
Spain Association of women to care for HIV patients, education for development for the vulnerable and those with less opportunities through their presence in university, using social media –
Polish in uk – need pastoral care in their own language.
Cwl three main areas of concern – sex trafficking/slavery, poverty resulting in the need for food banks
UCM were most concerned with the protection of family life and the family
NBCW – were concerned with raising awareness on all issues across it’s member organisations
Reports back from Regional Meetings and agreement on the changes/amendments to the Statutes and Bylaws of WUCWO
We broke early to attend the mass in the open air – in front of the Basilica
The rest of the day was for the optional excursion and cultural Dinner – more about those in my travelogue/blog giving the other side of our experience of Fatima and the World assembly.
The Resolutions for the next four years were agreed
- Human Trafficking
- Dialogue For Peace And Tolerance
- Addiction Prevention For A Life With A Future
- Prevention and Fight Against Corruption
- Right To Have Access To Drinking Water And Sanitation
Three candidates for President General 2014 -18 gave their presentations
- Rosaline Nganku Menga – Cameroon
Main points were: asking governments to help ensure the education of the girl child to give them the tools for life and a future for them. Welfare and education for women worldwide. You are a backbone for the church, in times of crisis you stand up for the family and the church.
- Maria Giovanna Ruggieri – Italy current President General
Wucwo to become more visible through specific goals. Human rights, unity, the promotion of encounters in the world and peace. We need to put in action hope for the world, see, judge and act. Eradicate slavery, erosion of human dignity. Special care for families.
No organisation should be excluded from Wucwo. Contact all the Bishops conferences of the world. Link with youth organisations. Social media so important. We need a go between for every organisation to Wucwo for better communication.
- Mary Beth Stewart – USA
Maribeth is centre here from a photo taken at the North American Conference
Establishment of a culture of peace, is the creation of an environment where war is not an option. We would expand the project from the United nations cyber school bus.
Human Trafficking – get a pack together for members.
Dialogue between all organisations, enhanced communications across the world. Environment, health, protection of girl, education, family
Advocacy to identify the areas of work that concern all areas.
The new members of the Board were voted in.
CWL England and Wales arranged for a Mass to be said, at the Basilica in Fatima, for the New WUCWO Board for 2014-18
New President General was voted in by the Board Members and was announced as Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, returning for a second term of office.
Madame President General then gave her address to confirm we would work together, share our good works, help all wucwo members across the continent. All women are half of the huge family and life has been entrusted to you for peace for the world.
List of vice presidents will be on the website – to be elected at the board meeting that night.
The last vote was for the Priorities for the next four years: the options were
1 Wucwo will, as sowers of hope, seek to empower the vulnerable especially the youth to allow the development of their through education and the capacity building for the achievement of the common good – 18 votes
2 Communication dialogue- 0 votes
3 Women bridges to the Future – 3 votes
4 Hope in action in the service of family , youth and the suffering of the world – 23 votes
5 Called to act with hope and justice – 13 votes
Option 4 was adopted
There were two options for the next assembly Australia, Senegal and it was decided later that the next Assembly will be in Senegal 2018