Clarifying our mission
| Tuesday, February 1, 2005
We, Christina and AnamarÃa, the organizers of the Maria Goretti Project, would like to apologize to you for conveying that the idea for the lecture series was solely to bring awareness about violence against women. While that was one main goal of the project, we thought it was important to do this in the context of other issues surrounding womanhood.
In order to discuss violence against women, we believe, we must first discuss what is being threatened by that violence – the inherent dignity of women. This was the purpose of the first night of the series and the first lecture on the second night. We are sorry that your impression of these two lectures was that Nicole Garnett and Teresa Collett were glorifying stay-at-home mothering. This was not our impression of either of their talks at all.
Instead, it seemed to us that both were discussing their dual vocations as mother and law professor (neither of these women are stay-at-home moms, though stay-at-home mothering was discussed). We believe that this fit in to the week as a whole because both talks discussed the dignity of women. Collett addressed this in a more theological way, and Garnett did so in a more personal-experience manner. Violence against women was still given top priority and the most time overall (the second lecture on Tuesday, all of Wednesday and all of Thursday).
We would like to clarify why we chose Maria Goretti. She is a saint partly because she suffered a painful death instead of consenting to her neighbor’s sexual advances.
This is noble, and does not suggest that the blame for the rape would have been put on Goretti had she been raped, nor does her exclamation, “No! It is a sin!” suggest that.
Her exclamation suggests instead that, in that context, the sex act would have been a sin. She would have been one of the sinners, yes, if she had consented to the act, but not if she had been raped. This refusal is only part of the reason that she is a saint, and not the main reason we chose to name the project after her. After she was attacked and mortally wounded, she was able, only by grace, to forgive her attacker and even prayed for him as she was dying.
This commitment to God’s love in the midst of a painful and untimely death is, in our minds, both admirable and inspiring. The healing Maria was able to find through God’s love and forgiveness is what we hope for those who have also been victims of violence; this is what we wanted to convey to the women and men who attended the Maria Goretti Project
Howard Hall/ Santiago