Things have changed a lot since women, in the last century, walked behind the Lord of the Great Power of Seville during the early morning with handkerchiefs and bags on their heads to protect themselves from the wax that fell from the candles. They did a double penance, that of the road to the Cathedral and that of not being able to accompany the image wearing the Nazarene habit. Even some, defying the established norms, left incognito integrated in the long rows of Nazarenes, hiding under the mask their true identity. Since 2011, by decree of Archbishop Juan José Asenjo, there is full equality of rights between men and women in the Sevillian fraternities. Holy Week no longer speaks exclusively in men, although, as in other sectors of society, women are still viewed with suspicion in some confreres.
Charo Padilla, without pretending it, has already broken schemes in this complicated world of centuries-old traditions that coexist with fashions and recent uses that want to be norms. This journalist from Canal Sur Radio, who brings listeners to the listeners every year the feelings that emerge at the time of the brotherhoods, will make history on April 7, becoming the first woman to announce the Holy Week in Seville. Padilla recognizes that, "inevitably", this fact gives more responsibility to the assignment. "Even if I do not think about that detail, people constantly remind me." A "special" year in which "many people, even those who usually do not have much interest in this act, will be awaiting the opening" that will be offered at the Teatro de la Maestranza.
His name had been playing for a long time to get on the lectern, but now "the time had come". "It has been a long process of maturation, of convincing me that I could take on a challenge I had never imagined." His experience as a columnist led him to the conclusion that "I had accumulated many experiences in the more than 30 years that I have been narrating Holy Week". Asenjo, in addition, encouraged him to take the step. But he has also taken into account when accepting the proposal "the struggle, the drive and the commitment that so many women, many of them friends of mine, put to reach the dream of leaving Nazarenas. If they took a step to slow down in that objective, I also had to give it in this other. "
The fight for equality has paid off, a slow process, although, as the preguer maintains, "there are still few women occupying relevant positions" in the fraternities. "I would like to see more older sisters or some woman occupying a general position in the Council of Brotherhoods." However, he assures that the breaking of the glass ceilings "is a matter of time". "As it happened with the Nazarenas, we will soon see the woman in all, absolutely all, the confraternities."
We are in Lent, a period in which the preparations for the Week of Passion are multiplied. The proclamation, says Padilla, "is still in the oven." "You have the final touches, adjust some things, fine-tune others, but you can say it's practically finished." Do you feel pioneer? Before this question it is clear: "I have not opened any road". "There are many women in Seville who already preached Holy Week, and they will continue to do so. It is in the hands of the Council of Guilds that the woman continues to climb the stage of the Teatro de la Maestranza on Passion Sunday. And of course I'll be there to help make it so. " Who did open a path was Ana María Ruiz, current lieutenant of the elder brother of San Esteban, although it was really "the circumstances" that led her to fight for equality between men and women during Holy Week. Ruiz went every year to take out the ballot-the document that authorizes the departure as a Nazarene in the penitentiary station-to his other brotherhood, El Silencio, when the rules did not allow it. I never got authorization. He became a kind of brotherhood suffragette. She based her argument, before the astonished faces of those responsible for the brotherhood, that the current rules were not the ones she swore when she became a sister in 1980. Then, remember, the rules specified that "women could not participate in the departure processional 'as long as canonical prohibition remains' ". Precisely, in 1983 the Code of Canon Law was reformed and women "could be part, in equal rights, of public associations of the faithful". El Silencio modified its rules, contrary to what was dictated by the reform of the Code, expressly prohibiting the departure of Nazarenas. All this "without the vote of any sister".
However, despite the reluctance of the leadership of the brotherhoods, the law played in favor of the Nazarene, even strengthened from the bosom of the Church. In 1997 the then Archbishop of Seville, Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, promulgated new Diocesan Standards, allowing women to vote in town councils and to form part of government boards. The position of the cardinal was clever, since the rules that came to the Palace, which continued to maintain the prohibition of the Nazarene, were not approved. The tension was such that in 2001 Amigo Vallejo, through a pastoral letter, invited the brotherhoods to "reflect" on full equality. Encouraged by this circumstance, Ruiz went to the Silence "with my rules under my arm, and I was surprised when they explained what had happened". The insistent refusal to wear the Nazarene habit did not stop him. "They greeted me and the older brother received me, but there was one that did not and it seemed that it bothered me that I was there. Everything was there. "
All in all, he recognizes that in this area "progress has been made as far as possible". "Full equality is not there, of course", although it positively values that, at least, there is no longer a ban on leaving the Nazarene. However, there are brotherhoods in which the presence of women is viewed with reluctance. For example, in the costaleros "it is not suggested" that a woman goes below a step. "Not everyone who wants can, either male or female, since they must have certain requirements, including having physical strength." In any case, she points out that "the courteous does not take away the brave" and it is strange that "no woman has insisted on going out of cost". "A friend of mine wanted to leave contraguía and of course they have not allowed it".
In the field of power there is still a long way to go. According to his calculations, in the 70 sororities of penance in Seville there are 1,028 men in government meetings against 141 women. Ruiz blames this data at the time that should be dedicated to this task. "If it is already difficult to reconcile work and family life, it is much more in the area of brotherhoods." "The responsibility of the family home rests with the woman. It is an undeniable fact, so it is difficult to reconcile schedules. " In spite of everything, in her brotherhood of San Esteban – a pioneering corporation in the integration of the sisters – she would not dislike to accede to the position of older sister. "It takes a dedication and a time that I do not have right now because of family circumstances, fundamentally. If things change one day, maybe I'll think about it. "