International Women’s Conference Held in Arlington

Linked with our presentation of Kamala Sarup – Nepal.
By Mary Frances McCarthy, Herald Staff Writer – The first talk, delivered by Maryann Cusimano Love from the Center for International Social Development and Catholic University Department of Politics in Washington, briefed the audience on the world situation in relation to justice and peace. “You can’t think about peace without thinking about justice,” Love said. She said that although international conflict has declined since the end of the Cold War, conflict is still very much alive and is especially impacting the most vulnerable — women, children and the poor. “Building peace is about much more than combating armies,” she said. “It is something other than signing peace accords.” In order for there to be peace in the world, there must be justice. It is up to the Catholic Church, she said, to work for justice and set an example for the rest of the world. The Catholic Church is blessed, she said, with many ‘artisans of peace’ — peace builders — working to prevent conflicts, resolve them, and reconcile and rebuild divided societies. “God doesn’t allow evil to exist in the world,” Love said. “We do.”

One of the steps toward world peace, Dr. Lee proposed, is a renewed respect for nature and environmental protection. Without the environment and nature, human life could not be sustained. “We come from earth, we live on earth, and in the end, we return to earth,” he said. “Destroying nature is equivalent to destroying the foundation of our life. If Earth’s economy goes bankrupt, then human economy will follow.”

Olive Luena from Tanzania, Amelita Dayrit Go from the Philippines, Yogi Sutton from England and Mary DeLorey, a CRS policy and advocacy official, shared what they have experienced as Catholic women seeking social justice and peace. Luena shared her experiences from Tanzania; a country though not involved in conflict, has served as a place of refuge for people escaping oppression. In the 1980s, she asked countries belonging to the United Nations to increase their awareness of conflicts and sought to hold UN members accountable for their actions. Go talked about the severe poverty in her country and how it affects women and children more than men. Women are hindered by unstable political and economic policies and are often limited in their access to education. But amidst the poverty, there are success stories. Livelihood projects teach women to turn life skills into businesses.

Sutton, who was raised in a devout Hindu family in South Africa, attended Catholic Churches because there was no temple. She eventually converted to Catholicism and taught catechetics to children after the government closed Catholic schools. She taught African women how to take a stand without getting in trouble. “Women are fantastic when they work together,” Sutton said. She married an Irish-Catholic man in Swaziland in 1973 but they were forbidden to associate in their home country because he was white and she was “colored.” They immigrated to England, but even in London, Sutton experienced racism. By beginning at a parish level and working within her community, Sutton was able to combat racism and share her culture. She continued working with children and now serves as coordinator of catechesis for her parish … (Read the rest of this long article on the Catholic Herald) …

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