Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 1st 2015 Contents A37
February 1, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Ministry of the People and Social Development
Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Disability and Public Assistance
Increase To Take Effect From February 1st 2015
The Ministry of the People and Social Development notifies recipients of
the Public Assistance and Disability Grants that the $300 increase will be
disbursed on February 1st 2015.
Recipients who were on the system as of 1st October 2014 will be
entitled to payments of arrears. These payments will cover the period
October 2014 to January 2015.
The Ministry of the People and Social Development helps, empowers and
transforms the lives of citizens through the delivery of social services
including rehabilitative and skill enhancement initiatives.
VATICAN CITY---A new Vatican outreach initiative
to listen to women hit a sour note before it even got
off the ground: The sexy blonde on its Internet
promo video came under such ridicule that it was
quickly taken down.
But the programme is going ahead, and an inaugural
meeting this week will study women s issues in ways
that are utterly new for the Holy See.
No, there is no talk of ordaining women priests.
But the working paper for the Pontifical Council
of Culture s plenary assembly on "Women s Cultures:
Equality and Difference" speaks about opening the
church s doors to women so they can offer their skills
"in full collaboration and integration" with men.
It denounces plastic surgery as a form of "aggres-
sion" against the female body "like a burqa made of
flesh." And it acknowledges that the church has for
centuries offered women "ideological and ancestral
This is dangerous territory for the all-male Catholic
Church hierarchy, as even Pope Francis has faced crit-
icism for being a bit tone deaf as far as women are
The pontiff, a master of communication, has sin-
cerely praised the "feminine genius." But he has also
elicited cringes, such as when he recently welcomed
female members of the church s most prestigious
theological commission as "strawberries on the cake."
And when asked if a woman might someday head a
Vatican office, he joked that "pastors often wind up
under the authority of their housekeeper!"
Few people doubt the seriousness of Francis pledge
to appoint women to key Vatican decision-making
jobs once his bureaucratic reform is complete. Nor
do they question his sincerity when he says: "Women
can ask questions that we men just don t get."
But, as Vatican commentator David Gibson recently
pointed out, Francis can also sound an awful lot like
the 78-year-old Argentine churchman that he is---
"using analogies that sound alternately condescending
and impolitic, even if well-intentioned."
The Vatican has made progress in recent years,
appointing laywomen to some Vatican offices and
giving women s issues as a whole more ink with the
monthly women s insert of the Vatican newspaper,
L Osservatore Romano.
But many would argue that much remains to be
done when the recently ousted Vatican high court
judge, Cardinal Raymond Burke, complains that the
church has been "assaulted" by radical feminism and
that the shortage of priests is due to an overly "fem-
The latest initiative comes courtesy of Cardinal
Gianfranco Ravasi, an academic who quotes Nietzsche
and Amy Winehouse with equal ease and has no fear
of courting controversy as he raises the Vatican profile
in sport, art and even atheist circles at the helm of
the Vatican s culture ministry.
Ravasi s first major foray into women s issues, how-
ever, was a flop---at least in the English-speaking
Just before Christmas, his office launched the #life-
ofwomen crowd-sourcing initiative to promote the
February 4-7 plenary meeting and invite women
around the globe to send in a 60-second video of
their lives for possible inclusion in a montage to be
screened at the "big meeting of cardinals and bishops"
In the video, Italian actress Nancy Brilli---buxom
albeit in a modest blue top---earnestly asked her
viewers how often they ask themselves "Who are
you? What do you do? What do you think about
yourself as a woman?"
The criticism was swift and harsh.
"What were they thinking at the Vatican?" wrote
Phyllis Zagano of Hofstra University in the liberal
National Catholic Reporter. "Aside from the obvi-
ous---sexy sell has long gone by the boards in developed
nations and is totally unacceptable in predominantly
Muslim countries---the fact of the matter is that high-
lighting a stereotypical spokeswoman is not the way
to ask for women s input."
Critics noted that the women the Vatican might
most want to hear from---those suffering from poverty,
violence or war---might not have a smart phone at
hand to send in a clip. Others noted that the two-
week deadline---at the height of the Christmas hol-
idays---worked against any widespread response.
The English version of Brilli s promo was summarily
yanked, though the Italian remains on the ministry s
In the end, some 250 videos were sent in. A good
number came from activists advocating for women s
Vatican hits sour note
with women, but
progress may come
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi
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