WUCWO Board Member's Report: May - June 2011

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I attended the first full working WUCWO Board Meeting, for the term 2010-2014, which was held in Rome, Italy from 28 May to 1 June 2011.

I was a little anxious and apprehensive but looked forward to the meeting with anticipation as to what would be expected of me but with the grace of the Holy Spirit I feel sure all went well.

We were fortunate to have three very learned women speak with us during this time.  The first two women were Dot. ssa Flaminia Giovanelli, under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Dr. Donna Orsuto, co-founder of the Lay Centre Foyer Unitas and Professor of the Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.  They spoke to us about the role of women during Vatican II and women’s role in bringing about changes as a result of this Council.   Dr Donna Orsuto spoke in glowing terms of Australian Rosemary Goldie and her position in the Vatican which she held for many years.  The third learned woman was Dot. ssa Fermina Alvarez, a member of the Secretariat of State who works in the international area.  She gave us a most informative talk about the Forum of Catholic Non-Government Organisations.  This group was formed as a Vatican initiative in 2007.

The new WUCWO Vice President General, Monica Santamarina de Robles, was elected during the Board Meeting in Rome. She is the WUCWO Board Member for Mexico and also Vice President of the Latin America and Caribbean Region.  

Fr GianMaria Polidoro OFM has completed his service as WUCWO Ecclesiastical Assistant and his successor is Fr. Gerard Whelan SJ, an Irishman who has worked in Kenya and was appointed to teach practical and fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

WUCWO Fr-Gerard-Whelan-SJ 121Fr Whelan SJ

During the Board meeting, there were many hours taken up in discussion about the ways in which to implement the WUCWO Plan of Action for 2010-2014—“Love in Action”.  Meetings of the four permanent Committees were held as were meetings of the four Working Groups.  I am a member of the Finance Committee and the convenor of the Liturgy Working Group.

Meetings of the five Regional groups were also held.  Members of the Asia Pacific Region discussed what has taken place within our own organisations since the General Assembly in Jerusalem last October.  The Asia Pacific Region Conference will be held in March 2012 in Manilla, Philippines.

All Board Members visited three Dicasteries.  They were the Pontifical Council for the Family where we were received by Secretary Bishop Jean Laffitte.  He suggested that we keep in regular contact, particularly through the Forum of Catholic NGO’s.  The Pontifical Council of the Laity was the next visit and the Board were welcomed by Cardinal Rylko and Ana Cristina Villa Betancourt who is responsible for the women’s section.  The Cardinal stressed the need for formation and the courage to go against the tide in our defence of the human person.  He especially encouraged our presence in the international bodies.  The third of the Dicasteries visited was the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  We received a warm welcome from Cardinal Turkson who said he was glad to hear that the Social Doctrine of the Church was our “compass”.  We also attended the General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI where WUCWO’s President General and Vice President General were presented to His Holiness.

WUCWO has been asked to respond to a discussion paper “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” in preparation for the Synod of Bishops to be held in October 2012.  This is a wonderful opportunity for the laity to put forward ideas.  

We have also been asked by WUCWO President General, Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, to participate in the pilgrimage to Assisi—"Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace"—that Pope Benedict XVI will make along with fellow Christians from different denominations, representatives of the world’s religious traditions and all men and women of good will on 27th October 2011. This pilgrimage commemorates the 25th anniversary of the historic meeting in Assisi 1986, called by Blessed Pope John Paul II, which gathered representatives of Christian communities and world religions for a Day of Prayer for Peace.

WUCWO members worldwide are invited to recite the Prayer of Saint Francis and the Prayer to Mary, Queen of Peace either personally or in a group for this intention, every day during the week prior to the pilgrimage to Assisi.   For more information, go to the latest WUCWO monthly message at http://www.wucwo.org/app/MediaFile/File.bin?Pk=380.  

Catherine V McGrath
WUCWO Board Member Australia