Last Friday evening, I attended a round table on gender justice held at the Evangelical Methodist church a few blocks from St. Paul’s. It was the opening event of the annual congress of the Federazione Donne Evangeliche in Italia (Federation of Evangelical Women in Italy). The Federation is a group of women from many Protestant denominations around Italy committed to “witness the liberation of Christ’s love for every human creature, with particular reference to status of women in the church and in society.”
The panel consisted of Letizia Tommasone, a pastora and Waldensian feminist and gender studies theologian, Elly Schlein, a Member of the EU Parliament and critic of the current Italian immigration policies, representing Northeast Italy, and Francesca Koch, the President of the International House of Women in Rome. They talked about women in scripture, women and the Italian migrant situation, and women in society, interspersed by the actor and biographer Fiammetta Gullo performing four stories about women across the field of discussion.
I was grateful to hear the thoughtful presentations, and absorb the energy, camaraderie and faithful attention of the ~100 women (and a few men) that evening. But perhaps the more powerful witness was that the conference overlapped the World Congress of Families in Verona (a city in Elly Schlein’s district), an event favored by conservative government leaders and certain American religious groups.
I came away from this evening inspired by the quiet and firm leadership of these women who, in in comparison with that noiser forum in Verona, offered a simple and powerful Gospel of Christian love and justice.