Dear sisters and brothers,
It has been two months since I assumed my new position as Secretary General of Pax Christi International. During that time, I have continued to learn about the many ways in which our remarkable global peace movement – which has been in existence for nearly eight decades – continues daily to strengthen its identity, reach, and commitment to effective action for disarmament; the struggle against injustice; and the promotion of human rights, as well as those of all Creation.
Our mission as Pax Christi International is to address inequality in communities around the world and to promote an inclusive world and Church. Today, on International Women’s Day, I especially honor all women who are part of this Movement, including the many grassroots women around the world who are accompanied by our Members and Associated organizations.
As Pope Francis has emphasized, “A society that is unable to put women in their [rightful] place, does not move forward”. Today, we are witnessing the terrible impact and damage left in the wake of the global pandemic, which has disproportionately undermined the health and economic well-being of women, particularly those in the peripheries, who suffer disproportionately from racial and identity bias.
Our Pax Christi International movement has supported global efforts to achieve gender equality and ensure the rights of women and girls. We do so by actively advocating for measures to increase the safety of women and girls, including by ending the history of domination, violence, and discrimination against them. And we will continue to do so, by promoting cultural changes in behavior patterns, so that women and girls may have their own voice, their rightful place in decision-making, and access to their rights. This is particularly important in the case of indigenous and rural women around the world, including in their struggle for land ownership, which is often unfairly denied them.
Pax Christi, through the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (“CNI”), carried out a global consultation process last year, on the path to the Synod on Synodality, emphasizing the critical role that nonviolence and Just Peace play in our faith. Throughout this process, we heard many voices emphasizing the need for the Church to change its relationship with women, and to become a more inclusive Church. Pope John XXIII (Pacem in Terris, 1963) referred to the wage labour of women with the phrase “promotion of women,” characterizing it as a “sign of the times”. Now, 60 years later, that Sign of the Times implies that we, the People of God, women and men, walk together in the synodal Church, pursuing spiritual transformation to live, as Jesus taught us, with hope, in an inclusive community.
 Pope Francis, on a flight from Bahrain to Italy, 6 November 2022.
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