ROME (CNS) — 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 Sister 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, reported Global Sisters Report.
“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.
Sister Sammut, who heads both the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa and the Rome-based umbrella group International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, spoke at the briefing alongside five other sisters who took part at the summit: Irish Blessed Virgin Mary Sister Pat Murray, Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus; German Holy Spirit Sister Maria Hornamann, Sister Aurora Torres, head of the Sisters of Mary Reparatrix; and Indian Sister Monica Joseph, superior general of the Congregation of Religious of Jesus and Mary.
Sister Murray, UISG’s executive secretary, 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,” she 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.”