Let me start with exciting news! For the past eighteen months I have been writing a book about the choices I’ve made in my life, where they took me and how they sit with me today. Writing a lot of very personal stuff has been hard work but now it’s finished.
Only not quite. Its just had its first major edit and I have some re-writing to do before its fit to be published. Hopefully by the end of the year, if not sooner, it will be available to read.
It’s in the bag
Last Christmas I came across the Share The Dignity website and a campaign they run called It’s in the Bag. At Christmas children in need are well catered for but women who are homeless, in a domestic violence refuge or caught in a poverty trap, are forgotten. Their suggestion: they asked Australians to donate a handbag they no longer used, fill it with items that would make a woman feel special and even pop a thoughtful note into the bag to show her that someone cares and that she matters.
What you put in your gift will depend on your bag size, your budget and your imagination. They suggested toiletries and hair products like shampoo and hair clips. Maybe some lotions or creams as well as something pretty like a pair of earrings or perfume. You might put in a pen or a note book, a scarf, socks or undies.
Come mid- November the filled bags will be collected at various points across the country, ready to be distributed through a multitude of caring agencies. Or you might organize your own little distribution centre.
Wednesday was International Women’s Day and even though she’s well known in some circles it’s likely that you’ve never heard of Marie Collins.
As a child in the 1960s Ireland she was sexually abused by a priest and her adult life is being spent campaigning for a better understanding of the effects sexual abuse on children as well as her hands-on involvement with agencies for women and men who were similarly abused.
In March 2014 Pope Francis, in an effort to deal with the scandal of sex abuse of children that was sweeping through the Catholic Church, set up the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors. Marie Collins was a member , the lone abuse survivor among a small group of clerics and experts.
At the time she said, “This certainly is a significant change in the way the Vatican is doing things. But there have been promises before. I get the feeling that it is different this timer. The fact that there are more lay people than clergy on the council is itself an enormous change. ..I think the council is a good setup and I hope we can bring about real change.”
Marie’s hopes were dashed and the week before last she resigned from the council, the last representative of abuse survivors to do so, frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the powerful groups that run the Vatican machine.
Asked about her thoughts on resigning from the council Marie replied, “ I don’t regret resigning, because at this point I think it was something I had to do to retain my own integrity. ”
In the ensuing fall-out it has been said that that Marie’s decision to resign because the council was being hindered in its work, may be a testing of Pope Francis’ credibility in the way he and the wider Church handles sexual abuse I issues. The personal integrity of one white-haired woman has challenged the might of the Vatican bureaucracy. I for one am proud of her.