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Monday, October 14, 2013


Vatican City, 12 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the study seminar “God entrusts humanity to women”, promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the publication of Blessed John Paul II's apostolic letter, “Mulieris dignitatem”, dated 15 August 1988. The seminar was attended by experts and representatives of ecclesial movements, from twenty-five countries and from diverse professional fields.

The Holy Father remarked that “'Mulieris dignitatem' is an historical document, the first of the pontifical Magisterium entirely dedicated to the theme of women”, and with reference to the title of the seminar, he observed that in his opinion the key to understanding John Paul II's phrase is maternity.

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. And this is not simply a biological fact, but also gives rise to a wealth of implications both for the woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for the way in which she positions herself with regard to human life and life in general. In calling the woman to the role of maternity, God has in an entirely special way entrusted the human being to her.

However, two dangers are always present, two extreme opposites which mortify the woman and her vocation. The first is to reduce maternity to a social role, to a task which, while noble, in practice marginalises women, along with all their potential, and does recognise their full value in building communities. This occurs in both the civil and ecclesial contexts. And as a reaction to this there is another, of a nature opposed to the first: that of the promotion of a type of emancipation that, in order to occupy the spaces subtracted from the male, abandons the female, along with her valuable characteristics. And here I would like to emphasise that women have a particular sensibility for 'matters of God', especially in helping us to understand mercy, tenderness and the love that God has for us.

'Mulieris dignitatem', concluded Pope Francis, “is located in this context, and offers profound, organic reflection, with a solid anthropological basis illuminated by the Revelation. From here we must undertake anew the task of deepening and promotion that I have already expressed on a number of occasions. Also in the Church, it is important to ask: what type of presence do women have? Could it be accorded greater worth? It is an issue of great importance to me, and for this reason I wished to meet with you and bless you and your work. Thank you, and let us continue in this work together! May Mary Most Holy, great woman, Mother of Jesus and of all the children of God, accompany us”.

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