How can the work of women religious in justice, peace and anti-trafficking efforts be more effectively included into policies at government and international level? Source: Vatican News.
That question was at the heart of a "Women Religious on the Frontlines" seminar on Wednesday organised by the US Embassy to the Holy See, together with the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and Solidarity with South Sudan.
Participants spoke of the work of Sisters serving in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, seeking to build peace and to empower other women in some of the most deprived and violent countries and socio-economic contexts.
Sisters working to combat trafficking, prostitution and the insidious cyber porn industry, talked of the need to educate girls and boys, as well as working together with governments and all sectors of society to protect the victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
“We speak about slavery, but it’s actually much more,” Italian Sr Gabriella Bottani, an active campaigner against human trafficking told Crux. “It’s the tip of the iceberg that helps us understand that something is not right, something is wrong,” she added, saying that there’s need for a more profound change."
Other Sisters shared dramatic and moving stories of staying alongside those who suffer in wars and conflicts, sometimes being targeted, robbed, raped or even killed themselves.
Also present was the Vatican’s ‘foreign minister’, or Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher. Speaking from personal experience of the women religious he met as nuncio in Australia, Burundi and Guatemala, he paid tribute to their courageous and selfless work, which is often taken for granted and undervalued, both in the Church and in wider society:
“For me these are all examples of religious women living […] and working on the front lines, living out their faith, having to draw on all the resources of their faith and of the spirituality of their individual congregations and giving enormous witness to the Church and to Christ,” Archbishop Gallagher said.
“In all the 30 years I’ve been doing this diplomatic job on behalf of the Holy See, everywhere I’ve been there have been women like this […] and I have no doubt they will continue to serve humanity and to serve Christ in the future, and for that I give thanks.”
Religious sisters share stories from the frontline (Vatican News)