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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

General audience: man and woman, complementary and of the same divine substance

Vatican City, 22 April 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated his catechesis at today's Wednesday general audience to the second chapter of Genesis, in which we read that God created man as the culmination of all Creation and placed him in a beautiful garden so that he could cultivate it. “The Holy Spirit, who inspires all the Bible, suggests for a moment the image of man alone, without woman”, said the Pontiff. “And it suggests the thought of God, almost the sentiments of God as He watches him, as He observes Adam alone in the garden: he is free, he is the master, but … he is alone. And God sees that this is not good; it is a lack of communion, a lack of fullness. 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him'”.

When after presenting all the other creatures, God finally presents woman to Adam, “the man joyfully recognises that creature, and only her, to be part of him: 'bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh'. Finally there is reflection, reciprocity. The woman is not a replica of man; she comes directly from God's gesture of creation. Indeed, the image of the 'rib' does not imply inferiority or subordination, but on the contrary, that man and woman are of the same substance and are complementary. And the fact that, again in the parable, God forms woman while man is sleeping, underlines that she is in no way a creation of man, but of God”.

God's trust in man and woman, to whom He entrusts the earth, is generous, direct and full. “He trusts them. But here there is the evil one who introduces suspicion, incredulity and distrust into their minds. And finally, they arrive at the point of disobeying the commandment that protects them. They give in to the delirium of omnipotence that contaminates everything and destroys harmony”.

“Sin generates diffidence and division between man and woman. Their relationship is undermined by a thousand forms of abuse and subjection, of deceptive seduction and humiliating arrogance, including the most tragic and violent. History bears their traces. Let us think, for instance, of the negative excesses of patriarchal culture. Think of the exploitation and commodification of the female body in the media in contemporary culture. But let us also think of the recent epidemic of distrust, scepticism and even hostility that is spreading in our culture – starting in particular from a comprehensible diffidence on the part of women – with regard to the alliance between man and woman that is able, at the same time, to refine the intimacy of communion and safeguard the dignity of difference”.

“If we do not find a wave of sympathy for this alliance, able to protect new generations from distrust and indifference, the children who come into the world will be increasingly rooted in it”, warned the bishop of Rome. “The social devaluation of the stable and generative alliance of man and woman is certainly a loss for all. We must restore honour to marriage and the family”.

“The stewardship of this alliance of man and woman, even if they are sinners and wounded, confused and humiliated, distrustful and uncertain, is therefore for us as believers a demanding and exciting vocation. The account of creation and sin, at the end, offers us a beautiful image: 'And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them'. It is an image of tenderness towards the couple, sinners as they were, that leaves us speechless. It is an image of the paternal protection of the human couple. God Himself cares for and protects His finest creation”, concluded the Pope.

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