Already in the first days of our last Chapter Assembly XXVIII 2023 a common yearning resounded: that of a truly synodal Church. A Church where all believers can truly walk together, women and men sharing leadership, welcoming each other with our being and our diverse word, with equal dignity. Without that tinge of clericalism that we now experience, so far removed from Jesus’ disposition, who excluded no one and welcomed everyone, as is revealed in the Gospels and in the experience of the first communities.
This desire was not new. In the previous chapters and also in the Enlarged General Council (EGC) of 2021 and in the Vedruna communities, we have reflected and dialogued a lot in recent years on the role of women in the Church, with the help of other women, religious and lay, theologians committed to the equality of women in the Church. The synodal journey has also encouraged us.
And this desire resulted in the decision of the Chapter community to send a letter, agreed upon by all, to the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to make our voice heard. We have titled it, “It’s time to include us!”. You can read it at this link, in English, French and Spanish.
With it, we hope to help our Church take a significant step forward. We perceive it as an urgency to which we are also called to commit ourselves as Vedruna Family wherever we are. Here is the full text of the letter:
Vic, August 14, 2023
IT’S TIME TO INCLUDE US!
The Chapter Assembly gathered in Vic for the celebration of the XXVIII Chapter of the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of Charity Vedruna, representing the Vedruna Family present in four continents, we address the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
We salute the entire Assembly and, in a special way, the women who are part of it, whom we support and in whom we feel represented. We also salute and thank Pope Francis for his willingness to encourage women’s participation.
From our communities we have actively participated in the diocesan stage of the synodal process and we value it in the hope of a new rebirth of the Church. Our lively sense of ecclesial belonging impels us now, as a capitular community, to say our word to the Synod.
We, like other women, experience different forms of exclusion in spaces and forums usually reserved for men, especially the ordained. Our abilities, our vision and our word are often ignored in discernment, in responsibilities, in decision making, in the interpretation of the Word and the magisterium, as well as in the way the Church is organized at different levels. The equal baptismal dignity of men and women, laymen, laywomen and ordained, is upheld, but we lack a practice that clearly shows this recognition.
All of this leads us to express our deep concern about this situation of exclusion. We believe that what is at stake is that the Church be a living memory of Jesus, Good News for all. We also consider that the clerical ecclesial culture contributes to the alienation of the Church from the new generations.
We ask this Assembly to dialogue and deliberate with courage to open paths of hope toward a Church that is:
- Community of communities that includes and recognizes the equal dignity of women and men, ordained or not, accompanying the processes of faith.
- Community that exercises a shared leadership among the different charisms and services, with alternative relationships to an unequal patriarchal world.
- A community that, sustained by the radical equality of having been created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27), manifests this equality in its structures and preaching; in its magisterium, biblical interpretation, celebrations and formation in diocesan seminaries; in its social action and its commitment to justice, peace and the integrity of Creation.
Our foundress, St. Joaquina de Vedruna, maintained a fraternal dialogue with the Church to discern and make decisions before, during and after the foundation of the Congregation.
We also seek to maintain this dialogue wherever we are and we demand it for all women on equal terms.
We trust in the good work of the Synod in listening to this ecclesial and social clamor. For our part, we ratify our commitment to walk in synodality, accompanying and being accompanied in order to weave living communities of a Church that goes out, Samaritan and prophetic from the different spaces in which we are present.
Trusting that the Holy Ruah accompanies you, receive our blessings.
Maria Teresa Cuervo Buitrago, ccv
Sr. Spokesperson: Montserrat Fenosa Choclán
Download the letter in ENGLISH HERE