​The editorial - Orthodox women

2017-11-02 L’Osservatore Romano

After the issue on Protestant women which followed the comparison with Jewish women and while we await an issue on Muslim women we look here at women belonging to the Orthodox Church. Getting this issue together was a most enriching surprise for us. For the kaleidoscopic pattern that emerges from the voices and stories of both the present and the past – from the American Gayle Woloschak, a scientist of world renown and a theologian, to St Maria Skobtsova known as Mat’ Marija [Mother Maria], (in the world: Elizaveta Yurievna Pilenko), a mother and a nun who was born in Riga, grew up in St Petersburg and died in Ravensbrück in 1943 – is truly rich and fascinating.

The editorial Orthodox women

Besides her formation, experience and sphere of action, Gayle Woloschak above all sums up in these words a leading role that is inspired by a simple but radical desire: “I am Orthodox, practising and interested in what is going on in my Church”. This passionate interest – which succeeds in being at the same time critical, concrete and active – leads Orthodox women to question themselves constantly on the way in which they can practise their charism in the community. This is also demonstrated by the story of Élisabeth Behr-Sigel, born in 1907 to a Lutheran father from Alsace and a Jewish mother from Bohemia.

Thus, listening to the testimony of an Orthodox priest’s wife (“There are moments when you think you are losing the exclusive right to love, not of course in its essence but in daily life”), or rereading the words of the prostitute Sonia Marmeladov in Crime and Punishment (“the only spiritual guide” of the tormented murderer Raskolnikov, as Simonetta Salvestroni describes her) we realize how much this female world – still unknown although it is so close to us – truly has to teach us. (giulia galeotti)