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March 10, 2017 —  Father
Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, joined women and men
from around the globe for Voices of Faith,
an annual event held in Vatican City to mark International Women’s Day on March
8. He told those gathered that “if
we are honest, we acknowledge that the fullness of women’s participation in the
church has not yet arrived.”

Fr. Sosa gave the opening
at the conference, which celebrated and encouraged the need for
women’s voices to be heard in the church and in the world. Organized by Voices
of Faith, Jesuit Refugee Service and the Fidel Gotz Foundation, the event’s
theme was “Stirring the waters: Making the impossible possible.”

Although Pope Francis has voiced his
support for broader participation of women’s voices in the decisions of the
Catholic Church, Fr. Sosa said,
inclusion, which would bring the gifts of resilience and collaboration even
more deeply into the church, remains stymied on many fronts.”


“No one is
more resilient that women building and supporting the church in the poorest
parts of our world,” he said.

Fr. Sosa said the participation of women is also necessary
in positions of leadership, especially in areas of conflict such as the Central
African Republic, South Sudan and Colombia. While it is hard to imagine peace, “can
we have the audacity to dream that women and men working together will bring
peace to these countries?” he asked.

He praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling her “the
most courageous and visionary leader in Europe during this time of phenomenal
forced migration.”

Fr. Sosa also cited
the example of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, for bringing peace
and reconciliation “to her war-torn country in a way that most men
thought would be impossible.”

He concluded by quoting
St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is
possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Fr. Sosa said it was in
that spirit that they gathered “to listen to Voices of Faith, to hear stories
of resilience, collaboration and inclusion. We have more than started. We will
not stop.”

The event featured
several guest speakers, including Dr. Mireille Twayigira, a survivor of the
Rwandan genocide, and two sisters who are refugees from Homs, Syria, and work
with Jesuit Refugee Service helping others forced to flee violence in their

Among the presenters
at a panel discussion was Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of
Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying organization that sponsored the
"Nuns on the Bus" tour in the United States.

Sister Campbell
explained it was “essential for women to work for peace” and social justice,
particularly for the poor and the marginalized, and she praised Pope Francis’
efforts to bring their plight to the forefront of Catholic social teaching.

Sister Simone Campbell (right) speaks during the
Voices of Faith gathering. (CNS photo/Massimiliano Migliorato, Catholic Press

“­­We rejoice in Laudato Si’ that (says) care for the earth and care for the poor come from
the same reality of exploitation of both and that until we learn to end the
exploitation, we will not care for those at the margins, we will not care for
our earth. And that is what moves me in such a deep way,” she said.

To read the full text of Fr. Sosa’s
address, click

[Sources: Jesuit
, CNSNational
Catholic Reporter

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