Voices of Faith advances the role of women in the Catholic Church and supports them in their infinite potential to create meaningful change for the common good, contributing fully to the life of the Catholic Church and to wider society.
The Voices of Faith event — held on 8 March, International Women’s Day — provides what has been a notably absent: the voices of Catholic women and their capacity to exercise authority within and outside the Church and faith that emerges not from abstract theological ideals but in confronting the reality of those who are poor. This event is a gathering where timely relevant topics are presented by talented, dedicated and committed leaders to create momentum for action and resolution.
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International and key participant in the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, will attend this year’s program to present the Voices of Faith award to honorees who will be announced at the event.
From the Voices of Faith website: “We need to act now to ensure the inclusion of women at all levels of the peacemaking process to transform the reality of our world and the Church.
“2017 began with Pope Francis urging that we ‘make nonviolence the new style of politics for peace.’ In the secular world, the new UN Secretary General António Guterres likewise called on renewed efforts to invest in peace and conflict prevention in his first speech of the New Year.
“In order to make significant progress toward these goals, both of these leaders would do well to make formal plans to ensure that a greater number of women are included in peacemaking.
“Pope Francis has already stated that ‘women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence’ and pointed to the examples of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Leymah Gbowee, who was pivotal to ending the Liberian civil war in 2003. He also argued passionately that the impact of domestic violence can be as destructive as the threat of nuclear arms proliferation and that we needed to fight against both.
“These statements should be heartening to women – and men – everywhere. They support research from a number of sources that shows when women are visibly present in the leadership of movements, chances increase dramatically that the movements will employ nonviolent tactics. Similarly, United Nations data shows that women’s active participation in peace negotiations increases the chances of building a lasting peace by 35 percent.
“We need to act now to transform the reality of our world and the Church. On March 8, 2017 the fourth annual Voices of Faith event [will] bring together women from around the world whose stories will inspire us and demonstrate the impact women have on peacemaking. From women’s personal stories of courage in facing domestic violence or stopping singlehandedly an angry genocidal mob to accounts of how women raise millions of dollars to counter human trafficking, lobby for social change in Washington D.C. and change the way the United Nations conducts business, the speakers will share authentic, concrete examples of action that is grounded in faith and nonviolence.
“As they converge in Rome, we ask: How can their voices become seeds of concrete initiatives in the Church? How can we give their voices of faith the opportunity to be equally represented at all levels of the peacemaking processes? Wouldn’t it be a wonderful sign if the Church, with Pope Francis at the helm, took the lead on this initiative, just like it did in facilitating nonviolent solutions in Cuba or Colombia?”