It has been a facinating day, notwithstanding the torrential rain that fell for hours and hours on Rome this morning (following a night of rain), and the fact that, just before I was to attend a press conference for Sunday’s event in the Vatican, Voices of Faith, a taxi rounded the corner where I was standing and splashed me to the point I had to go home and change into new shoes, new coat, new purse and wash my face!
You can’t keep a good woman down and I got to the conference, late but dry!
A quick lunch after the press conference and then on to the Paul VI Hall where the Pontifical Academy for Life is meeting in plenary session to do an interview with Fr. Scott Borgman, coordinary secretary of the academy. Back home to edit that radio interview and get it to my colleagues at EWTN for this week’s “Vatican Insider,” then prepare my weekly radio show for Vatican Radio called “Joan Knows” and, lastly, put together this column.
I will be joining Fr. Frank Pavone (Priests for Life) and Janet Morana (The Catholic View) for dinner very shortly, thus the deadline in writing.
Pope Francis addressed the plenary of the Academy for Life this morning and I posted that talk on Facebook (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) so will report only a few of those highlights here. In addition, there is an interesting report by Vatican radio on women in the Vatican.
LENTEN STATION CHURCHES: THURSDAY OF WEEK 2, SANTA MARIA IN TRASTEVERE
Time is not being very generous with itself today and I am reluctant to be so brief in describing this beautiful and historic church but brevity is preferable to no report at all!
Here is Brian Lenz’s link to his 2014 Lenten morning pilgrimage to Santa Maria in Trastevere, along with his fellow seminarians from NAC, the Pontifical North American College: http://blenzinrome.blogspot.it/2014/03/thursday-of-second-week-santa-maria-in.html
And this is another terrific link: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-santa-maria-in-trastevere
And you will realy enjoy this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41SLy10wrl0
POPE FRANCIS: “RESPECT, PROTECT, LOVE AND SERVE LIFE, EVERY HUMAN LIFE!”
Pope Francis Thursday addressed members of the Pontifical Academy for Life as they meet in plenary on “Assisting the Elderly and Palliative Care.” Many of the things he said in the Wednesday general audience about the elderly, he repeated Thursday to this group, highlighting the duty to love and care for them because they are the real treasures of every family.
On the theme of the Academy plenary, he said: “Palliative care is an expression of the properly human attitude of taking care of one another, especially of those who suffer. It bears witness that the human person is always precious, even if marked by age and sickness. The human person, in fact, in whatever circumstance, is a good in and of himself and for others, and is loved by God. For this reason, when life becomes very fragile and the end of earthly existence approaches, we feel the responsibility to assist and accompany the person in the best way.
“The biblical commandment that requires us to honour our parents, understood broadly, reminds us of the honour we must show to all elderly people. God associates a double promise with this commandment: “that you may have a long life” (Ex 20:12) and “that you might prosper” (Dt 5:16). Faithfulness to the fourth commandment assures us not only of the gifts of the earth, but especially of the possibility of enjoying them. In fact, the wisdom that makes us recognize the value of the elderly person and that brings us to honor them, is the same wisdom that allows us to appreciate the numerous gifts that we receive every day from the providential hand of the Father, and to be happy. The precept reveals to us fundamental pedagogical relationship between parents and children, between the elderly and the young, with regard to the preservation and transmission of the teachings of religion and wisdom to future generations. To honour this teaching and those who pass it on is the source of life and blessing.
“On the contrary, the Bible reserves a severe warning for those who neglect or mistreat their parents (cf. Ex 21:17; Lv 20:9). The same judgement applies today when parents, having become older and less useful, are marginalized to the point of abandonment.”
“It is this capacity for service to the life and dignity of the sick, even when they are old, that is the measure of the true progress of medicine, and of all society. I repeat the appeal of Saint John Paul II: “Respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!” (ibid., 5).”
VATICAN RADIO SURVEY ON WOMEN WORKING IN THE VATICAN
(Vatican Radio) The number of women who are employed at the Vatican has continually increased in recent years. Vatican Radio’s Gudrun Sailer investigated the issue ahead of the commemoration of International Women’s Day on March 8th.
When people speak of those working at “the Vatican,” they mean the employees of two distinct organizations: The Governorate for Vatican City State, is the government of the city-state, and includes organizations such as the Vatican Museums and Vatican Post Office; and the Holy See, which governs the Universal Church, and includes such organizations as the Roman Curia and Vatican Radio.
Sailer was able to determine that in the Governorate the number of women employees has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 195 in 2004 to 371 in 2014. This increase raised the percentage of female staff from 13% to 19%.
In the offices of the Holy See, there are 391 women, making up 18% of the workforce. Four years ago, there were 288 women (17%).
Sailer’s research showed the women who are employed at the Holy See are generally better educated than those who are employed by Governorate for Vatican City State. Most employed by the latter work in areas which do not require a University degree, such as the supermarket, the various shops, and service positions in the Vatican Museums.
For the Holy See, however, 41% of women have University degrees, and work in professional positions (e.g. department heads, archivists, historians, and journalists.)
However, women rarely hold top positions. Among Curial officials, there are only two women under-secretaries: Sister Nicoletta Spezzati at the Congregation for Religious and laywoman Flaminia Giovanelli at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
The first woman was hired at the Vatican exactly 100 years ago: Anna Pezzoli was hired by the Floreria, which deals with logistics for papal celebrations. By 1929, women were already filling professional positions, including creating the manuscript index at the Vatican Library.
However, women only began working at the Vatican in large numbers after the Second Vatican Council.
The first woman to hold a position of authority in a Curial office was the Australian Rosemary Goldie, who served as a vice-secretary at the Council for the Laity until 1976 under Blessed Pope Paul VI. Pope St. John Paul II appointed the first female undersecretary: Sister Enrica Rosanna at the Congregation for Religious.