Report and Final Statement of the 3rd National Consultation on Gender Relations in the Church and Society

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Report and Final Statement of the 3rd National Consultation on Gender Relations in the Church and Society

As foretold in our June newsletter, a national consultation was held at Atmadharshan, Mumbai (East), on August 9-11, 2013. The theme was “Living ‘Nirbhaya”: Towards a Violence Free Society. There were 44 participants consisted of priests, women and men religious and laity from across the country.  Archbishop Dominic Lumen of Imphal, Bishop Agnello Gracias, auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai Arch Diocese and Sr. Rita Pinto RSCJ, National President of CRI Sister’s section encouraged the group with their participation. Below is a summary of their report. The final statement is attached as well in pdf.

“In line with the vigorous public discourse and protest following the brutal gang rape of the 23-year-old in Delhi and many such incidents, the consultation focused on change of mindset and asserted that equality between women and men is a human right issue and a theological imperative. All the 44 participants, including the bishops, agreed that the consultation has reignited a sense of commitment in us to the cause of gender justice as a follower of our LORD. The group felt that there is an urgency for consciousness-raising on gender-equality and mutuality in the church.  Some of the suggestions came up are:

  • Introducing sex-education/gender education in the educational Institutions and other faith formation programs for children, youth and adults.
  • Gender sensitized priests could use  the  pulpit  to create  awareness on  issues of gender-violence and sexual  violence  so  that the  people can address these issues  in their  families, work place,  etc.
  • It is highly recommended that the ‘Gender policy’ is brought into the formation program in seminaries and other formation houses as part of the curriculum.
  • It is  important that  every  parish  has  some mechanism  to  identify  the  cases  of  abuse and  deal with the issues.  The community  centres, family commission, youth commission, women’s cell etc. can give  a lead  on this and  these can  network  with  other NGOs  or groups  that have  greater  competence  on this.
  • Ecumenical and inter-religious  groups  comprising  women and men who want  to address gender-violence and  create  mutuality and partnerships in man-woman relationships can  be  initiated outside the church  circles and these  can network  with  other  secular  groups committed  to the cause  of gender-justice.
  • Ensure marriage preparation programme with one or two follow-ups after marriage. Expand the issues dealt with to include gender sensitivity, compatibility, mutuality-reciprocity, use of contraceptives, etc.
  • It is important to create/initiate alternative spaces for consciousness-raising and interventions. Movements linking individuals, groups, organizations with a feminist thinking in to a larger network can facilitate this.  A grass-root based movement ‘Women for Change,’ which is already initiated, can be a platform for this.
  • Most important is change of mindset through personal commitment.
  • Dissemination of information, Making use of existing forums like seminaries, Superior’s forum, and women commission to talk and discuss about the issue wherever possible.


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