faith | service | social justice

A Message from the WUCWO President – December 2023

Dec 22, 2023 | In the News, Media, News Releases

“May the approaching Christmas season strengthen our commitment to open paths of peace”. (Pope Francis)

Dear friends of WUCWO:

A year is coming to an end and, first of all, we must thank the Lord for the many blessings received. For us in WUCWO, it was an unforgettable experience to have had a private audience with the Pope. The Assembly in Assisi, where the perennial legacy of St. Francis and the light of the Holy Spirit guided us in defining the direction the organisation would take for the next 4 years, was also   wonderful. And what can we say about the Synod on Synodality? Witnessing such a transcendental moment in the life of the Church and the participation of women in it, as well as being able to collaborate in one way or another in the synodal process, will undoubtedly be something to tell future generations.

Yet, we cannot fail to see that the year that is ending is also a year marked by the new war in the Middle East, by the drawn-out war in Ukraine, and by other wars between nations and internal conflicts that continue to cause loss of human lives and countless havoc and suffering. A year in which the damage caused by climate change leaves thousands upon thousands of people homeless and without means of subsistence. A year when millions of people around the world are forced to leave their homes and countries, fleeing misery, violence and insecurity. A year in which families are threatened by various circumstances and in which women continue to be victims of violence and discrimination. Finally, a year in which millions of children suffer the lack of bread, of health, of education, of peace and, what is worse, of a family or a State that welcomes and protects them.

What to do in the face of all this? I think it is time to place our gaze, with hope, on the manger of Bethlehem, which has so much to teach us and can be our guide.  Let us ask the Child Jesus for the gift of peace that the angels announced to the shepherds. Let us look at Mary and trustingly ask her for her unshakeable faith to be witnesses of the love of her Son in the world. Let us look at the Child of God, the Virgin and St Joseph and pray that Christmas may be an opportunity to rediscover the family as the cradle of life and faith; a place of love and welcome, of dialogue, forgiveness, fraternal solidarity and shared joy; a source of peace for all humanity.

During this time of Advent, my thoughts have been especially with the children of the world who are victims of violence and misery. Perhaps it is my condition as a grandmother of 8 little ones that leads me to think of so many children who deserve to live in peace and yet are forced to cross paths full of dangers and sleep on the streets on their pilgrimage around the world, sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied, in search of a safer place to live. Millions of children living the horror of war. And what to say about the millions of children who live in homes that have become real battlefields where parents use them as weapons to hurt each other, without realising that they are actually causing suffering to their own children; what about so many little ones who, within the family, where they should have been protected from all evil, are victims of abuse by their own parents or by relatives and people close to them?

All these situations question me and hurt me, but above all, they drive me to continue working with all my strength so that the women of WUCWO can become true artisans of peace in families, in communities and in the world. Children deserve to live happily and peacefully – we will certainly have to redouble our efforts, but I am sure we will succeed!

As Pope Francis says: “The example of John the Baptist teaches us at least two things. First, that we cannot save ourselves alone: only in God do we find the light of life. And second, that each of us, through service, consistency, humility, witness of life – and always by God’s grace – can be a lamp that shines and helps others find the way on which to meet Jesus”. Let us try to be like St John the Baptist, extraordinary people that live and work for peace, particularly for the little ones that are frequently the most vulnerable and unprotected.

If we want it to be Christmas, the Birth of Jesus and of peace, let us look to Bethlehem and contemplate the face of the Child who is born for us! And in that small and innocent face, let us see the faces of all those children who, everywhere in the world, long for peace. May the Lord inspire us to offer concrete gestures of solidarity to assist all the children who are suffering, and may he enlighten the minds of those who have the power to silence the thunder of weapons and put an end to all that hurts them. 

“Pray before the Nativity scene for children who will experience a difficult Christmas in places where there is war, in refugee camps, in situations of profound misery…. As Christmas approaches, may the dedication to open paths of peace be strengthened.” Pope Francis (Angelus 17 December 2023).

I wish you and your families a Christmas full of peace and happiness. And may the Lord fill you with blessings in the coming year and, guided by the star that illuminated the Wise men, may He give you his light and strength to fulfil the mission that He entrusted to each one.

A warm embrace from Mexico,

Mónica Santamarina    

WUCWO President General