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Women in the Church: Sister Regina speaks to the Council of Cardinals

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Women in the Church: Sister Regina speaks to the Council of Cardinals

Sister Regina da Costa Pedro, missionary of the Immaculate and director of the Pontifical Missionary Works (PMS) of Brazil, spoke at C9: «In these meetings, the Pope and the cardinals do not talk about women, but listen to them and allow themselves to be challenged»

The director of the Pontifical Missionary Works (PMS) of Brazil, Sister Regina da Costa Pedro, missionary of the Immaculate Conception, she spoke on Monday 15 April in the Vatican, at the second work session of the Council of Cardinals (C9), in which Pope Francis also participated. Together with her, two other women: Stella Morraprofessor of fundamental theology, e Subscriber Linda Pocherprofessor of dogmatics, at the Auxilum College of the Salesians.

The meeting was aimed at give voice to female figures from different parts of the world to reflect on the presence and role of women in the Church. Sister Regina, in particular, insisted on the fact that – as Pope Francis often repeats – we are facing a change of era, not an era of change. This also greatly changes the perspective on the relationship between Church and culture. Sister Regina referred to two biblical images: that of the shipwreck of Paul’s boat, in the Acts of the Apostles, in which the ship sinks, but “nothing will be lost”; and that of the verse of Luke 24.5 in which in front of the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus reminds us that “the days will come when, of all that you admire, there will not be one stone left on another that will not be destroyed”. «These images – commented Sister Regina – tell us that, in this moment of radical cultural change, we often have the feeling that nothing will resist. But a new reality appears, as God guides history towards salvation.”

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During the meeting a moment of conversation was held dialogue with the cardinals on the presence of women in the Church and on cultural and historical relationships in various realities. The cardinals shared their experiences, presenting progress and resistance regarding this issue, and expressing substantial consensus on the need for changes. «After our interventions – said the missionary of the Immaculate Conception – there was a moment of discussion and the Pope asked us questions which we answered, in a dialogue that lasted the whole morning. The most important thing to underline is that this practice is absolutely new: five meetings, in which the cardinals and the Pope listen to the women. They don’t talk about women, but they listen to women talk about their problems and let themselves be challenged”, underlined Sister Regina.

The missionary, in particular, also referred to the biblical text of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15,21-28) who meets Jesus and is listened to by him. “That woman insisted and was listened to by Jesus. This moment we are experiencing seems to re-propose the experience of the Canaanite woman: to be women who make themselves heard and who carry the cry and voice of many other women”, concluded Sister Regina .

The Council of Cardinals (C9)

The Council of Cardinals, following the renewal of the body by the Pope on 7 March 2023, is made up of 9 cardinals. Hence the nickname C9. They include: Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State; Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, archbishop of Kinshasa; Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay; Seán Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston; Juan José Omella Omella, archbishop of Barcelona; Gérald Lacroix, archbishop of Quebec; Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg; Sérgio da Rocha, archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia. The secretary is Dom Marco Mellino, titular bishop of Confirmation. The first meeting of the new C9 took place on 24 April 2023.

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The Council was established by Pope Francis on 28 September 2013, with the task of helping him in the government of the universal Church and of studying a project for the revision of the Roman Curia, the latter also carried forward with the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, published on March 19, 2022. The first C9 meeting was held on October 1, 2013.

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