Address of Pope Benedict International Convention on Woman and Man

In 07 Observations on 2011/07/14 at 10:47 PM

“The theme upon which you have been reflecting is highly topical: from the second half of the 20th century up to today the movement for the improvement of women in the various aspects of social life has given rise to countless reflections and debates, and has seen many initiatives multiply which the Catholic Church has often watched with close attention.  The man-woman relationship in its respective specificity, reciprocity and complementarity certainly constitutes a central point of the ‘anthropological question’, so decisive in contemporary culture and ultimately for every culture. Numerous events and Pontifical Documents have touched upon the emerging reality of the feminine question. I limit myself to recalling those of my beloved Predecessor John Paul II, who, in June of 1995, wished to write a Letter to Women, while on 15 August 1988, 20 years ago this year, published the Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem. . . .

In Mulieris Dignitatem, John Paul II wished to deepen the fundamental anthropological truths of man and woman, the equality of their dignity and the unity of both, the well-rooted and profound diversity between the masculine and the feminine and their vocation to reciprocity and complementarity, to collaboration and to communion.

This ‘uni-duality’ of man and woman is based on the foundation of the dignity of every person created in the image and likeness of God, who ‘male and female he created them’ (Gn 1: 27), avoiding an indistinct uniformity and a dull and impoverishing equality as much as an irreconcilable and conflictual difference.  This dual unity brings with it, inscribed in body and soul, the relationship with the other, love for the other, interpersonal communion that implies ‘that the creation of man is also marked by a certain likeness to the divine communion’ (Mulieris dignitatem).  Therefore, when men and women demand to be autonomous and totally self-sufficient, they run the risk of being closed in a self-reliance that considers ignoring every natural, social or religious bond as an expression of freedom, but which, in fact, reduces them to an oppressive solitude.  To promote and sustain the real advancement of women and men one cannot fail to take this reality into account.

A renewed anthropological study is certainly necessary based on the great Christian tradition, which incorporates new scientific advances and, given today’s cultural sensitivity, in this way contributes to deepening not only the feminine identity but also the masculine, which is often the object of partial and ideological reflections.  Faced with cultural and political trends that seek to eliminate, or at least cloud and confuse, the sexual differences inscribed in human nature, considering them a cultural construct, it is necessary to recall God’s design that created the human being masculine and feminine, with a unity and at the same time an original difference and complimentary.  Human nature and the cultural dimension are integrated in an ample and complex process that constitutes the formation on one’s own identity, where both dimensions, that of the feminine and that of the masculine, correspond to and complete each other.

. . . A masculine mentality still persists that ignores the novelty of Christianity, which recognizes and proclaims that men and women share equal dignity and responsibility.  There are places and cultures where women are discriminated against or undervalued for the sole fact of being women, where recourse is made even to religious arguments and family, social and cultural pressure in order to maintain the inequality of the sexes, where acts of violence are consummated in regard to women, making them the object of mistreatment and of exploitation in advertising and in the consumer and entertainment industry.  Faced with such grave and persistent phenomena the Christian commitment appears all the more urgent so that everywhere it may promote a culture that recognizes the dignity that belongs to women, in law and in concrete reality.

God entrusts to women and men, according to their respective capacities, a specific vocation and mission in the Church and in the world.  Here I am thinking of the family, a community of love open to life, the fundamental cell of society.  In it the woman and the man, thanks to the gift of maternity and paternity, together carry out an irreplaceable role in regard to life.  Children from their conception have the right to be able to count on their father and mother to take care of them and to accompany their growth.  The State, for its part, must uphold with appropriate social policies everything that promotes the stability and unity of matrimony, the dignity and responsibility of couples, their rights and irreplaceable duty as educators of their children.  Besides, it is necessary to enable the woman to collaborate in the building of society, appreciating her typical ‘feminine genius’.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: