On June 14, 2022, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, addressed the members of the World Women’s Observatory (WWO), during the presentation of the WWO's first report to Rome.
The Observatory was created in June 2021, by the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO), to “give visibility to women, especially the most vulnerable, whose suffering and potential seem ‘invisible.’”
The WWO study entitled Impact of Covid-19 on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, was carried out by WUCWO in alliance with the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM), in the second half of 2021. Fruit of the work of 25 experts, based on the survey carried out on a non-statistical sample of women from 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Cardinal Ouellet did not hesitate to deliver a very “politically correct” personal vision: “What damage we have done, as men, by arrogating to ourselves a status of superiority,” he declared.
He then adds, “There is no complete picture of what is human when only the masculine is seen as predominant and relevant. For centuries, we have stifled the feminine particularity. The subordination of women to men is the fruit of sin.”
“The feminine is the key to reading the present and the future of our society, affirmed the Quebec cardinal, ...and men are called to be an adequate help for the realization of women.”
Quoting Pope Francis, he said that women are the “protagonists of the changing times.” And he explains: “The word protagonist could not be better chosen. The woman has always been a protagonist in history, however she has often been made invisible.”
On the sidelines of this repentance, which could just as well be made at a UN or UNESCO forum, the WWO report demonstrated that the pandemic has worsened the condition of women in terms of gender-based violence, trafficking and forced migration, poverty, access to health and education, exacerbating existing gaps and injustices.
Sister Alessandra Smerilli, secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and head of the Vatican Commission on COVID-19, stressed the importance of the Observatory: “If we cannot observe and measure, we cannot not improve reality.”
“We must promote formation, new laws and new spaces for the participation of women, in a collaboration between the Church, governments, social movements, and NGOs,” argued the Italian nun.
The World Observatory of Women (WWO) was created on an experimental basis by the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO). According to WUCWO, “to date there is no observatory from a Catholic perspective that encompasses all types of women in the world, including many of those who normally ‘have no voice’ and ‘are not seen.’”
“An observatory from a Catholic perspective, consistent with the truth and the natural order willed by God, whose vision is that of the social teachings of the Church and which shows the reality of women in the different regions of the planet, including understood their great needs and shortcomings, as well as their potential and achievements.”