~ by Joshua J. McElwee, Global Sisters Report
The Catholic sisters who took part in Pope Francis’ summit on clergy sexual abuse say they hope the presence of a dozen women at the gathering sets a standard for a growing presence of women at Vatican meetings of bishops.
“We would like to think that this is how things will be in the future,” Maltese Sr. Carmen Sammut, one of the women invited to attend the Feb. 21-24 summit on child protection, said at a Feb. 25 briefing. While three women religious participated in the 2018 Synod of Bishops, 10 attended the summit.
“We hope that this is an example of what will happen in the future, that we will have more say, more places in synods and other big meetings at the Vatican,” Sammut said.
Sammut, who heads both the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa and the Rome-based umbrella group International Union of Superiors General, spoke at the briefing alongside five other sisters who took part at the summit: Irish Blessed Virgin Mary Sr. Pat Murray, Nigerian Holy Child Jesus Sr. Veronica Openibo, German Holy Spirit Sr. Maria Hornamann, Mexican Mary Reparatrix Sr. Aurora Torres, and Indian Jesus and Mary Sr. Monica Joseph.
Murray, UISG’s executive director, said the group represents about 1,900 religious congregations around the world that consist of more than 600,000 women.
“We had an important role to play [at the summit], representing the women religious of the world and also taking on the responsibility that we have for running so many institutions, projects and programs,” Murray said.
“We saw also ourselves speaking on behalf of women in general,” she said. “We didn’t just see ourselves speaking for the women religious of the world, but also for women in general.”
Openibo, who in a speech to the summit Feb. 23 addressed what she called a culture of “mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency” that led to the abuse scandals, said she hopes in the future, more laywomen “might also be added so that the church’s voice, including women, would be there.”
“I hope our brothers have listened, have seen the difference, and they will make the changes,” she said.