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UISG NEWS: The women voice at the Synod on Family

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October 19, 2015

REFLECTIONS - Sister Carmen Sammut, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, comes from the island of Malta. Apart from 2 years in Malawi, her missionary experience has been in Muslim countries in Interreligious Dialogue. She has lived for 15 years in Tunisia, 9 years in Algeria and 3 years in Mauritania before becoming, in 2011, the congregational leader based in Rome. She was elected President of the UISG in 2013. This is her intervention during the Synod on Family.

“Holy Father, I would like to thank you for inviting three representatives of the International Union of Superiors general to this Synod. From my back bench, I have been reflecting on the use of the word Church in the Instrumentum Laboris  - it sometimes refers to the People of God, sometimes to the hierarchy or to Church teaching. This is not without significance. If the image we have of Church is the People of God, then we, the laity, would be expected to bring our lived experience and  knowledge to the discernment processes of the Church, in view of decision-making, always in union with the Pope and our Bishops.

This would influence the way dioceses and parishes work.The diocesan budget would include the formation of women, men and youth to be leaders in the Church. On most of the issues raised here in the Synod, it would be useful to have teams of clergy and laity (married couples as well as religious, from all walks of life and in their capacity as men and women theologians, biblical scholars, scientists, medical doctors, sociologists, pastoral workers, canon lawyers) bring their lived knowledge and scholarship and reflect together in the light of the Gospel. I see this as part of the Mission of the family in the Church.
One area where such interdisciplinary teams made up of couples as well as religious would bring a change is in  the formation of ordained ministers.

In our pastoral, health and education ministries we are called to listen to and accompany women who have children and know they do not have the financial and other resources to bring up another child. Natural family planning methods do not always work, especially if the husband is not cooperative or regularly absent. Study and discernment which engages church leaders as well as couples and scientists, is necessary to rethink how to put together the Church’s very essential teaching of openness to life, the prohibition of abortion which we all agree upon and the plight of these women.

As UISG, through our network Talitha Kum, we are involved in the fight against human trafficking, which mostly concerns poor women and children. This harm affects the persons trafficked and their families. We make an appeal to all of you, church leaders and couples to engage in this fight and in the pastoral care of those concerned .

I really dream of a Church where each one is called to give his or her part for the construction of the whole.”


Maureen Kelleher is member of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary since 1960. Her focus is immigration law and she is now defending children from Honduras and Guatemala who fled violence from drug gangs and face deportation.  Many of her other clients are women and children who were victims of domestic abuse.
She intervened at the Synod, Friday, October 16:

“Holy Father, brothers and sisters
At Paragraph 72 we read "The Church must instill in families a sense of we in which no member is forgotten.  Everyone ought to be encouraged to develop their skills and accomplish their personal plan of life in service of the Kingdom of God."

I am grateful for the social encyclicals of our church and her advocacy for immigrants and option for the poor.  I am grateful for my Catholic education for the nuns who taught me --Franciscans, Ursulines, Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary. They challenged me to give a life of service for the building of the Kingdom of God.  As a Sister of the Sacred Heart of Mary since 1960 I serve now these past 31 years as a lawyer working for justice and the immigration needs of the migrant farm workers in south rural  Florida.

I call on the Church, my family to live up to the challenge to instill in our family the church a sense of WE... to encourage each person male or female to develop their skills to serve the Kingdom of God. I ask our Church leaders to recognize how many women who feel called to be in service of the Kingdom of God cannot find a place in our Church. Gifted though some may be many cannot bring their talents to the tables of decision making and pastoral planning.They must go elsewhere to be of service in building the Kingdom of God.

In 1974 at the Synod on  Evangelization, one of our nuns, Sister Marguerite Marie was one of two nuns appointed from the Union of  Superiors General.  Today, 40 years later, we are 3!
I love my law practice with immigrants but find a high percent of my clients are victims of domestic violence sexual abuse, and  parents of sexually abused children. I have yet to hear a homily in the wealthy or poor parishes in my area calling men to see their spouse as partner, as equal, and to stop their practices of power, domination, and violence, and  to value the innocence of children. I urge this silence to stop. Also I urge that priests receive  better  pastoral formation to accompany these victims. They need to  know an abusive home is no place to raise a child.

I close with a congratulations for all those cardinals inspired by the Holy Spirit who gave us  Pope Francis. He is such a gift. Now people of all different faiths and some with no faith who know I am a sister stop me to say I love your pope.”


Berta Maria Porras,Terciaria Capuchina de la Sagrada Familia. Es licenciada en Orientación Educativa por la Universidad de Costa Rica y Máster en Ciencias del Matrimonio y la Familia por la Universidad Católica de Valencia.
Su intervención al Sínodo sobre la Familia el día 16 de octubre de 2015:

“Los Documentos eclesiales que anteceden esta Asamblea sinodal,  nuestro Carisma congregacional y esta invitación a participar en ella, me hacen sentir  en un ENCUENTRO CON LAS RAÍCES: “Un carisma de Misericordia”
Al profundizar los diferentes numerales del  Instrumentum Laboris viene a mí, el texto del Buen Samaritano y  me detengo en esta parábola en la labor del POSADERO, en la función de la POSADA.
Reconociendo la presencia de hermanos, haciendo creíble la belleza del matrimonio y  la familia, que como posaderos acogen a tantas otras, heridas y frágiles, miro este Sínodo como una verdadera POSADA.
Convertido el Sínodo en POSADA, el Buen Pastor nos está animando a:

Llamar a las ovejas por su nombre… Ir a buscarla donde se encuentra…
A conocerlas… Alegrarse de encontrarla…
Ir delante de ellas… Acogerla sobre los hombros…
No huir ante el lobo… 
Ir tras la herida… 

El amor es nuestra misión y  es la única manera de poder estar plenamente vivos, ser aquello para lo que fuimos creados y llamados. (EMF, Filadelfia 2015)

Percibo  en Instrumentum Laboris la urgencia de la FORMACION. ”Resuenan con claridad opciones pastorales valientes.” (IL 106)
¡Tremendo desafío! ¿Formación para qué? Para la realización vocacional. “Vocación que se acoge con una adecuada preparación”; afirma Instrumentum Laboris ,84.

Después de una  “MIRADA PENETRANTE” a la realidad de la familia y concretamente de los jóvenes (ver IL 64-65) propongo atender los siguientes ejes prioritarios en un  TRÍPODE FORMATIVO, ofreciéndolo como aporte para los Centros educativos, de Acogida o para la Pastoral juvenil:







Discernir  mi misión. Formación para el discernimiento.

Hombre y mujer lo creó.

Desafíos actuales.

Sexualidad humana es un bien.

Amor conyugal.

Atreverse a amar.






Frente a esta misión me animan las palabras de  Luis Amigó y Ferrer: “…ustedes, mis amados hijos e hijas, a quienes Él ha constituido zagales de su rebaño….no os arredren los zarzales y emboscadas con que tratará de envolverlos el enemigo…”(OCLA 1831).

Que al finalizar este Sínodo, resuenen en nosotros las palabras del Papa Benedicto XVI a los jóvenes: "Han venido a adorarlo"  (Mt 2, 2). Y  transformados por el encuentro…vuelvan a su país, como los Magos, "por otro camino" (cf. Mt 2, 12).”

Source: Patrizia Morgante
UISG Communication Office
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it www.uisg.org
06 68400234 – 3280722672


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