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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Sharing the Good News about Women
Veronique Chevrier, a Regnum Christi consecrated woman who is currently stationed in Paris, shares her experience of participating as a translator in a congress on women organized in Rome by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Veronique Chevrier, a consecrated woman of the Regnum Christi Movement, has missioned in Canada, Mexico, the United States and France while working mostly with teenagers and youth groups for the past 11 years. (Contributed photo)
Veronique Chevrier, a consecrated woman of the Regnum Christi Movement, has missioned in Canada, Mexico, the United States and France while working mostly with teenagers and youth groups for the past 11 years. (Contributed photo)

April 14, 2008. Paris, France. Veronique Chevrier, a bilingual native of Quebec, has been a Regnum Christi consecrated woman for 11 years and is currently stationed in Paris, France. One of her most recent missions was to attend a congress organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity on the theme “Woman and Man: the Humanum in Its Entirety.” As a translator for French-speaking participants, Veronique attended the various conferences and workshops, meeting a wide range of people from many different nationalities and cultures.

In the following brief interview, Veronique shares a few of her insights and experiences from the trip. Veronique’s article on the congress, published in the Atlantic Catholic, is also reprinted below with permission. (The Atlantic Catholic is the newspaper for the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada.)

Veronique, what was the single most striking idea that you took home with you from the Congress?

There are a few striking ideas that stuck with me, but I would say that the most important one is that the Church has such a refreshing message about women, to offer women, and too little women know about it. It’s time to get it out! The Church tells women their dignity, their worth, their mission, and that God loves them in a very special way, even if they often feel oppressed or used in different societies of the world. He tells them that despite their sufferings, when they love and offer them up to God, their sufferings are not in vain. He tells them that their mission is to care for humanity and to humanize it, no matter how small their day-to-day actions are. He tells them that even if they do not have a voice on earth, they have a voice that is heard in heaven.

Tell us a little bit about the atmosphere or spirit of all the participants. What was it like?

It was a very international atmosphere; for example, there were constant efforts to translate and understand the others during the meals. There were different styles and cultures. It was also an atmosphere of intellectual and activist leadership: the people there were handpicked by the different dioceses of the world, and most of them were leaders of active groups for evangelization or for women’s organizations and Catholic universities. Finally, I think there was a real common desire to increase synergy. We all realized we were working each one on our own and that we could profit so much from each other if we learned to teamwork.

What were some of the most common concerns or issues raised by the participants? What real problems are they struggling with in their own countries?

I think one of the most common concerns was that of the family and marriage which corresponds well to the title of the congress: Man and Women, the Humanum in its entirety.

Can you explain a bit about the “Gender Agenda” and how this Congress responded to it?

The congress did not seek to explain the Gender Agenda in depth nor penetrate its extremely complicated reasons for existence (that can be found rather in entire books), but it was often indirectly referred to in the exposition of the difficulties for women in our world today. It was mentioned that the Gender Agenda is a concrete strategy that was agreed upon in the Peking Conference of 1995, and that as the 2015 deadline comes closer, the pressure increases in all areas of the international community. The exponent that most specifically spoke about it, Marguerite A. Peeters, explained that it is an exaltation of individual sovereignty, in the spirit of the French Revolution, excluding “the Father of all.” It thus uproots the human person of its family and its relational commitments and so “frees” it of what he most needs and most loves.

The following article, written by Veronique Chevrier, was published in the April 12 edition of the Atlantic Catholic and is reprinted with permission.

Women: Humanizers of Our Society

The Atlantic Catholic, April
12, 2008
By Véronique Chevrier
“So according to you, what is the role of women in society?”asked a European journalist to an Austrian dignitary, a participant in the Congress on the Human Person, February 7-9, 2008. “Women are called to humanize society.” “Wow, could you repeat that, please? ...That is beautiful. I never heard it said that way. Humanizer of society…”
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of John Paul II’s “Mulieris Dignitatem” (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women), the Pontifical Council for the Laity, headed by its president Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, organized a congress in Rome entitled in Italian Donna e uomo: l’humanum nella sua interezza (Woman and Man, the Humanum in its Entirety).
Invited were men, but especially women from all the corners of the world, including Gabon, the Middle East, Tahiti, Belgium, Israel, to state a few unusual ones. A group of us were consecrated persons — some religious, some lay — but not the majority. The whole of the Congress had such a universal touch. It opened horizons for many of us. For example, did you know that the flourishing of the Church in Africa depends a lot on the zeal of the women involved in parishes?
These approximately 250 people, many of them leaders in women’s issues in their countries and continents, had the joy and the task of attending a series of conferences given in the four languages of Italian, Spanish, English and French. They concluded the Congress with specific lines of action, eager to transmit the contents to their own teams once they left Rome, and encouraged by the networking they were able to do during those three days. Daily, the participants had lunch together, and despite the disparity of languages, there was an ecclesial atmosphere of openness and cordiality.
Most of the conferences were professionally prepared. After the introduction, we first saw the history of women through the centuries, in order to better understand the context. Then, we saw the philosophical aspects. For example, we learned to interpret the first two chapters of Genesis to find the foundations for the equal dignity of men and women.
Also, as a response to the “Gender Agenda,” we reflected on the fact that we give glory to God by being and living as beings with- a-specific-sexuality, since God created us that way in His own image and likeness.
Gender Agenda is a worldwide campaign, started in 1995 and implemented with success until now, which aims to spread a series of ideologies, untrue to the nature of the human person, in which sexuality is considered to be only an idea imposed on us by society, something that one can change and choose according to your “liberty.”
Afterward, we reflected on the daunting contemporary situation of women and family, not without contemplating all the good that women have the opportunity to offer our society. Some of the conferences were delivered within panels followed by sessions of questions and comments to the experts.
On Saturday morning, we had the inestimable grace to be received by Benedict XVI in a private audience. There, he reiterated the equal dignity of men and women, their reciprocity and complementary qualities, and the need to continue fighting to give women the right opportunities to humanize society. [Note: the complete text of the Pope’s address can be read at this link.]
Finally, the participants divided into workshops to hear of the more specific situation of each continent, and to agree on concrete lines of action.
The Congress ended by a profoundly moving conclusion by Cardinal Rylko, in which he reminded us that as Christians, we should never fear being a minority: salt and leaven are always a minority. Rather, what we should fear is becoming the indifferent and insipid type of Christians that have no influence and offer no hope to others.
Being there made one proud of being a Catholic — especially a Catholic woman — active in the Church. More of us, of the feminine gender, need to know the beauty and transforming power of the Catholic doctrine on women — that the world may say like the journalist, “Wow… could you repeat that?... Humanizers of society?”
Chevrier works in Paris, and was a translator during the Congress on the Human Person.

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