- Women's Experiences on the Pastoral Area of Dioceses of San Cristobal De Las Casas, Chiapas
analyzing the word of God starting from the values of our culture, CODIMUJ (Coordinadora Diocesana de Mujeres, Chiapas), decolonization of spirituality, engage faith through women's eyes, minds, and hearts, faith with a liberating approach, indigenous Tseltal, Zoque, Tsotsil women, traditions that give life, sacred women's space, struggles with the Church's patriarchal structure
I got married and one time my husband slapped me. And I grabbed onto the strength of God and I said, "You know what? It's the first and the last time you put your hands on me. Don't you ever think about touching me again!
—Pera, participant in the dialogues
María Luisa Córdova
My name is María Luisa Córdova, and I come from the State of Chiapas. I belong to the Dioceses of San Cristóbal and we work in women's areas. We work along three axes within the reality in which women live: the spiritual (which we engage through the eyes, mind, and heart of a woman), gender, and culture. As part of CODIMUJ (Coordinadora Diocesana de Mujeres, Chiapas), we share our vision, proposals, denunciations, and commitments from the experience of women believers addressing specifically the current political conjuncture, the decolonization of spirituality, and the hierarchical and patriarchal structure of the Catholic Church, of which we are a part.
Our experience starts from recognizing ourselves as dignified people and from our identity as women believers who reflect on the word of God through the eyes, mind, and heart of a woman. We work our locality first, in coordination with women from our own community. Then we meet in the parish to work with all the communities that belong to the parish that corresponds to us. And we also have two zonal encounters with other women from the area. My area, the smallest in the diocese, is the southern zone, and we only have five parishes. Of them—of those five parishes—we get together to talk about the conditions of women that live in the zone. Finally, our diocese is composed of seven pastoral zones. Around 120 to 150 of us women gather from these zones four times a year in San Cristóbal, in the CODIMUJ house—your home whenever you would like to visit it. [End Page 105]
In the different parish communities, pastoral areas, and dioceses, we are and we act as a network. The women's area is the sacred and trustworthy space, in which women freely can express ourselves, understand each other, listen to each other, and help each other through the different situations we live. And it is a sacred space where we can listen to each other without any criticism, and the listening leads to mutual support where we women can see that we all have similar experiences, and through mutual help we are moving forward. We recognize ourselves as daughters of God, daughters dearly loved by God. When we find some women who are shut off inside their homes, very badly treated, living a very strong machismo, well, there we go about helping them with dialogue—a dialogue from the Word of God that is read, as we say: with the eyes, mind, and heart of a woman. Then we move on to a dialogue with the husband and the children. Because the husband must also enter this space, perhaps not completely, but he does have to understand that we have decided to follow this path of freedom.
Our church is hierarchical, and it is machista. But dialogue between women makes it easier. This May's diocesan assembly's theme is "Women in the Church and in Society." It was a long process getting this theme approved. Yet it was accepted, despite the fact that the diocesan assembly consists of more men than women. We bring the liberating word of women to the men.
It is very important for us to focus on gender. It is part of our formation and way of living the faith. As the word...