At the Saint-François-de-Sales Days, Catholic women with a “singular voice”

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One crossed, the same night, half of Africa and the Mediterranean to talk about her fight against violence against women in her native country – Cameroon. Others came from North America or Europe to discuss various issues: the future of the Catholic press, the way to relay the painful crisis of sexual abuse in the Church, the projects to be set in motion to remain audible in societies won over by secularization…

“The Saint-François-de-Sales Days have never been so international – this year bringing together 230 media professionals of 25 nationalities, 30% of whom are journalists”, immediately camped Jean-Marie Montel, member of the management board of Bayard (1) and president of the Federation of Catholic Media (FMC), organizer of these three days of meetings under the theme “How do we make ourselves heard? Great Catholic voices respond.”

Never has this meeting been so feminine, achieving perfect parity – eleven of the speakers invited to the event being women; journalists, influencers, activists or association leaders, media directors, lay people, Church employees, nuns…

“Strong testimonials”

A signal ” positive ” for Sabrina Di Matteo, executive assistant of the Canadian Religious Conference and president of the independent Quebec media Présence-Religious Information. We were looking for strong testimonials, and these speakers were the most qualified”, explains Xavier Le Normand, coordinator of the days and editorial manager of the international editions of The cross.

Without the question of the place of women in the Church or in the international Catholic media panorama being directly addressed, they took part in the debates on burning topical subjects. For example, the courage to inform in the face of adversity – especially at a time of the return of war in Europe, as testified by the Ukrainian journalist at Vatican News Svitlana Dukhovych.

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Another subject: finding the right words to deal with abuses within the institution in the Catholic press. A round table on this theme will have marked many minds, with the head of the religion department of The cross, Céline Hoyeau, and the editorial director of Christian familyAntoine-Marie Izoard.

As for the question of transmitting the word of the Church when our contemporaries are increasingly turning away from it, it was addressed by Diane Pilotaz, Deputy Secretary General and Director of Communication of the Conference of Bishops of France – named this Wednesday, January 25 spokesperson for the CEF – and by Agnès Cerbelaud, national delegate for communication and external relations of the Scouts and Guides of France.

“Legitimacy”

“This equitable participation between men and women shows that the question of the legitimacy of the latter no longer arises”, continues Xavier Le Normand. “As women, in my opinion, we can have a posture that is perhaps more attentive to reconciling an intellectual discourse with the pastoral concern to reach people. We can also have a consoling word through the testimony of our experiences, in the context of the crises that the Church is going through”, continues Sabrina Di Matteo, known across the Atlantic for her writings and her speaking out on Catholic feminism – she was still speaking on Thursday January 26 in a workshop organized with Philippine de Saint-Pierre, general manager of KTO.

In Lourdes, one of the highlights was undeniably the testimony of Aissa Marie Doumara Ngatansou, jurist co-founder of the Association for the fight against violence against women in Cameroon – violence of which she herself was the victim, forcibly married by her parents at age 11. Near The crossthis is said “deeply honoured” to be considered as “a great catholic voice” today. She shares a great hope: “that the affirmation of the public voice of women, within the religious framework, continues to contribute to freeing the voice of all those who suffer in silence”.

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