“What the Lord is asking of us is already in some sense present in the very word “synod”. Journeying together — laity, pastors, the Bishop of Rome — is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice” (50th Anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops), Pope Francis told us five years ago.
Today, having experienced a radical change in our lives and in the way our organisations operate in this time of pandemic, I seem to glimpse that those of us who are part of WUCWO are on the threshold of that synodal path, to which the Holy Father called us, exhorting us to incarnate it as a mission of each of the baptised. Some progress in this direction has been reflected in our last two newsletters.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to those members of our organisations who have increased their active involvement in WUCWO in recent months, by praying and accompanying women in the countries that suffer most, sending responses to our queries, writing for our magazine, sharing their photos and reviews of activities, joining our campaigns on social networks, making their life stories available and participating personally in the virtual meetings.
Last month I wrote to you about the need to develop “communication for communion,” a prerequisite and condition for the development of synodality. To WUCWO, SYNODALITY means: putting into dialogue the gifts of the various member organisations. What for? To walk together, learning from each other and increasing the fruits of each with the accompaniment and example of the others. In this way we can grow in the promotion of the women, which are the very focus of our whole mission.
Underlying and sustaining this form of “synod” is the spirituality of communion which, as St. John Paul II explained to us, is the “ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a "gift for me". […] Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, "masks" of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.” (NMI 43)
Why not take advantage of these limitations caused by the global emergency we are living to experience fruitfulness and the beauty of “walking together”? We need to grow in mutual listening, with the awareness that listening “is more than simply hearing” (EG 171) in order to learn individually and discern communally. Through community discernment we will be able to respond more adequately to the various problems of women in different geographical and cultural areas, provided we welcome the light and strength of the Holy Spirit that must be made evident in that discernment. Virtual meetings will facilitate this progress.
Right from the beginning, Father Gerard Whelan, our Ecclesiastical Assistant, framed this 2018-2022 WUCWO period in the context of Pope Francis' teaching on the need for a “Synodal Church” (see Women's Voice No. 48). He drew our attention to the International Theological Commission (ITC) document of 2018: “Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church.” It is appropriate that we reflect on and pray this text again in view of 2022, when the new Synod of Bishops will be held under the title: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”
I sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit is marking the footprint of the synodal journey for us WUCWO women at this very critical global moment. For this reason, I make a special appeal to all Presidents and heads of member organisations to express by email their suggestions for sharing projects, activities and concrete situations which they feel may in some way enrich other WUCWO organisations. Those suggestions that most closely relate to our resolutions will be chosen for presentation at future virtual meetings.
Dear friends, we are moving towards an experience of new fruitfulness in this unprecedented celebration of the 110th anniversary of the foundation of WUCWO: let us welcome the Holy Spirit who drives us towards SYNODALITY and let us entrust to Mary, Queen of Peace, our commitment to build a synodal Church.
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General