Women Religious as Peacebuilders

The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See hosted its second Women Religious and Peacebuilding event on March 17, 2017, in celebration of Women’s History Month. Men and women from religious and lay organizations participated in the event, including featured speakers Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love of The Catholic University of America, and Ms. Patrizia Morgante of the International Union of Superiors General.

Dr. Cusimano Love is a tenured Associate Professor of International Relations in the Politics Department of The Catholic University of America. Her presentation focused on the strategic role women peacebuilders play in peace processes, and the importance of balancing men’s participation in peace processes against women’s participation. She discussed also the need for leadership and civic training for women peacebuilders.

Ms. Patrizia Morgante works in the Communications Office of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella organization comprised of superiors (leaders) of 1,900 women religious’ congregations all over the world.  Her presentation emphasized the important role religious, particularly women religious, play in peace processes.  She shared several stories about women religious’ peacebuilding efforts in Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria, noting that the women chose to stay in each of these countries despite the threat of violence and that their choice inspires others in their local communities to work for peace.  Ms. Morgante spoke also about the fact that religious are able to work in conflict areas more easily than lay people, a dynamic she attributed to the fact that religious are assumed trustworthy, and are able to address simultaneously peoples’ spiritual and temporal needs.

Political and Public Diplomacy Officers from the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See also addressed the audience, speaking about the importance of women’s formal participation in policy making and peace processes, and the logistics of obtaining U.S. Government grants to empower women peacebuilders, respectively. Participants engaged in lively discussion after the speakers concluded their remarks.

Photo: Chargé d’Affaires Louis Bono welcomes participants