Catholic World News

Pope Francis reflects on roles, generativity, and exploitation of women

February 09, 2015

Women and men have equal dignity but are not interchangeable, Pope Francis emphasized during a February 7 address to the Pontifical Council of Culture, whose members and consultors had gathered to reflect on the role of women.

“The equality and difference of women—like men—are perceived better from the perspective of ‘with,’ of relationship, than ‘against,’” the Pope said.

Criticizing the models of “social subordination of women to men” and “mere equality, applied mechanically,” the Pope added that “a new paradigm was configured, that of reciprocity and in equivalence and in difference. The man-woman relationship, therefore, should recognize that both are necessary in that they possess, yes, an identical nature, but with their own modality.”

The Pope also spoke about the physical and spiritual generativity of women. “You, women, know how to show the tender face of God, his mercy, which translates in the availability to give time more than to occupy spaces, to welcome rather than to exclude,” he said. “In this sense, I like to describe the feminine dimension of the Church as a welcoming womb that regenerates life.”

Turning to the themes of the beauty and exploitation of the female body, Pope Francis said that “the many forms of slavery, of commodification, of mutilation of women’s bodies, oblige us therefore to work to defeat this form of degradation, which reduces [a woman’s body] to a mere object to sell on various markets.”

“I am convinced of the urgency of offering spaces to women in the life of the Church and to welcome them, taking into account the specific and changing cultural and social sensitivities,” he continued as he reflected on women and the Church. “Therefore, a more widespread and incisive female presence in the Community is desirable, so that we can see many women involved in pastoral responsibilities, in the accompaniment of persons, families and groups, as well as in theological reflection.”

Pope Francis paid tribute to “the effective presence of women in many areas of the public sphere, in the world of work and in places where the most important decisions are taken.” In doing so, he highlighted “their presence and preferential attention, altogether special, in and for the family.”

“We cannot forget the irreplaceable role of women in the family,” the Pope said. “The qualities of gentleness, of particular sensitivity and tenderness, which is abundant in the female soul, represent not only a genuine force for the life of families, for the irradiation of a climate of peace and harmony, but also a reality without which the human vocation would be unfeasible.”


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