In Conversation: Not Losing Hope in the Struggle for Peace

Editors’ note: Sister Winifred Doherty, a member of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, is an advocate at the United Nations for an end to human trafficking and the exploitation of women and girls. She wrote about her work in “A Letter From the United Nations” in the September edition of ONE magazine.

Laura Ieraci of ONE magazine invited Sister Winifred for an in-depth conversation in mid-October about what motivates her mission and the challenges and opportunities in advancing the anti-trafficking movement.

Listen to Sister Winifred in our third episode of ONE: In Conversation and read an excerpt of her insights below.

“Where I sit today, there’s a sense in which my heart is very heavy because of the horrendous global conflicts that are happening. Certainly, I never experienced or expected to experience a war in Europe. And now we have, you know, the beginnings of a war in the Middle East. We have the horrendous suffering of peoples.

“I’ve spoken to you about, you know, poverty and human trafficking and climate, but we can do none of this if we don’t have peace. And so, while my brief at the United Nations is not to engage with the Security Council, that has its own accreditations and its own way of engagement, it’s peace we need.

“And I suppose in some senses, this came up, excuse me, last July, when we were evaluating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals seven years into the process, you know, we’re halfway to 2030. And so, it was a very disappointing and dismal picture compared to the hope that I have tried to share with you that was and is and must be a part of our work as we continue, even though these days are dark and are conflict-ridden, not just the two big areas that I’ve spoken about, but throughout Africa, there’s conflict after conflict after conflict. And it’s difficult to know what to do, how to be people of peace.

“So, we’re caught in a huge struggle. And it’s in that struggle, we can’t lose hope. And so, you know, the light of Christ is within. We are the light of Christ. And Jesus has said, ‘I am the way.’ Jesus himself ended up crucified on the cross in a nonviolent stance. The violence was done to him, but the violence did not bring about the end of Jesus. There was the moment of resurrection.

“And so somewhere in this global struggle of humanity, of power, of aggression and of suffering, Christ is crucified every day.

“And so, there’s a sense in which the world seems to be passing through this moment of crisis.

“So, for me, there’s something about how we be in this struggle. And so, compassionate hearts, merciful hearts, open minds, how to embrace diversity, how to be in solidarity with the people who are most suffering. And so, for me, as this religious woman, while I look at all this on media and I read it in the papers and I come to work saying, ‘What more can I do?’ it’s in the prayer moment of bringing all this distress, this cry of humanity to God and just crying with humanity for sanity to return, for peace to prevail on Earth.

“Even the words of Mary’s Magnificat have been informing me. He cast down the mighty from their thrones. There’s a sense in which something is happening in this struggle.”

Laura Ieraci is editor of ONE.

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