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Pope Francis sees maternity as key to women's role

October 14, 2013

Speaking on Saturday, October 12, to participants in a Vatican symposium on the role of women, Pope Francis warned against two extremes: seeing motherhood only as a task on one hand, or, on the other, rejecting femininity in the name of liberation.

The symposium, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, was dedicated to Mulieris Dignitatem, the 1988 apostolic letter by Blessed John Paul II. Pope Francis observed that it is a historically significant document, “the first of the pontifical Magisterium entirely dedicated to the theme of women.” He suggested that women’s capacity for maternity is the key to the thought of John Paul II.

“Many things can change and have changed in cultural and social evolution, but there remains the fact that it is the woman who conceives, carries and gives birth to the sons and daughters of men,” the Pope said. “And this is not simply a biological fact,” he added, but an insight into the distinctive character and role of woman in the world.

In that context the Pope cautioned against the tendency to “reduce maternity to a social role,” in a way that fails to appreciate the ways in which women build communities. The Pontiff said that in reaction against that tendency, some have made the error or pursuing “a type of emancipation that, in order to occupy the spaces subtracted from the male, abandons the female, along with her valuable characteristics.”

The Pope said that the Church must renew the discussion of women’s role, both in society and in the Church. He said that he wants to see a greater recognition of women’s role in the work of the Church.


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