The Catholic Women Speak Network (CWSN) is a forum for theological dialogue and collaboration around issues relating to Catholic women’s roles, responsibilities and relationships in the Church and society. It was established in January 2015 with a view to promoting women’s voices in the context of the two Synods on the Family held in the Vatican in October 2014 and October 2015. The Network has over 700 members representing a broad spectrum of Catholic women, with links to many wider networks of theologians and educators, women in religious orders, pastoral workers, social activists and community leaders. The Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing at the University of Roehampton in London provides an academic base for the Network and coordinates its activities.
The first collaborative project of the Network has been to compile an anthology of Catholic women’s writings to be published ahead of the Synod on the Family in October 2015. The result is a unique collection of essays from 43 contributors representing many different cultures, perspectives and backgrounds, ranging from some of the Church’s best-known women theologians to up and coming voices from the global South, as well as a number of contributors who are sharing their personal stories and reflections for the first time. Catholic Women Speak: Bringing our Gifts to the Table, is edited by the Catholic Women Speak Network and will be published by Paulist Press, Mahwah NJ, in September 2015. All profits from sale of the book will go to the Catherine of Siena Virtual College, which offers online courses in theology, social justice, women’s rights and gender issues, designed primarily though not exclusively for women in the global South.
The book is being launched at a celebratory gathering at the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome on 1st October, beginning with an afternoon symposium from 2.30 to 5.45 pm, followed by a reception with a short performance of music and dance from 6.00 to 7.30 pm. Guest speakers include Mary McAleese (former President of Ireland), Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ (Principal of Hekima College in Nairobi), and Catherine Pepinster (editor of The Tablet). Several of the contributors are travelling to Rome for the launch, which it is being supported by a number of ambassadors to the Holy See including Nigel Baker (Britain), Mónica Jiménez de la Jara (Chile), and Lars-Hjalmar Wide (Sweden).
We welcome donations towards the cost of the symposium and book launch, particularly in assisting with travel expenses and accommodation for contributors who will provide a vital women’s presence in Rome in the run-up to the Synod. Please use this link to make any contribution, however small, bearing in mind that if you are a UK tax-payer you can maximise the amount of your donation by gift-aiding it.
Thank you very much for your support for this initiative. To find out more about the Catholic Women Speak Network, please visit our website. (The website is currently under construction with new material and links being added every week, so we apologise if you cannot yet access all the links.)
If you have any queries, please contact the Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre, Professor Tina Beattie, at [email protected].