At the Vatican: “Women are here,” they are tackling problems

VATICAN CITY — The women who run the Vatican newspaper’s monthly supplement, “Women — Church — World,” do not mind at all that their conference Friday through Sunday is just the latest in a long line of Vatican meetings focused on women.

“It is almost an incessant reminder, ‘There are women here, women are here,’ so I think it is positive that there is conference after conference,” said Dominican Sister Catherine Aubin, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“It is important to open people’s eyes because it seems that sometimes, in some church spheres, we women do not exist. All of these conferences might help open people’s eyes,” said the French sister, who also works on the monthly supplement.

The cover of the conference program.

The cover of the conference program.

The conference, “The Church before the Condition of Women Today,” will be live streamed on the website of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Sessions will focus on violence against women, challenges facing the family and changing ideas about women’s identity and roles.

Lucetta Scaraffia, a writer for the Vatican newspaper and professor of modern history at Rome’s La Sapienza University, said she and the other organizers make the deliberate decision not to include a discussion on the need to expand women’s voices and roles in the church, although “it is right” that women are asking for that.

This week’s conference, she said, starts from a recognition that “we are already part of the church and that we can take responsibility ourselves for looking at certain situations and presenting the position of the church.”

The speakers, Scaraffia said, will demonstrate that Catholic women, acting in the name of the church, already are tackling many of the problems that most deeply impact the life of women — and their families and societies — around the world.

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