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April 10, 2012 – Benedict XVI: “Role of women is fundamental to the Christian community” – Vatican Insider

The Pope praised the female intellect in his Easter Monday message, pronounced from the Apostolic retreat in Castel Gandolfo
giacomo galeazzi
vatican city
Benedict XVI praises the female intellect. The role of women is fundamental in the Christian community. The Pope received an affectionate welcome from the numerous faithful gathered in the papal retreat at Castle Gandolfo, where Benedict XVI has been since the conclusion of the Easter celebrations on Sunday. He will remain in Castle Gandolfo until Friday afternoon, returning to the Vatican only on Wednesday morning for the General Audience in St. Peter’s.

On Easter Monday the Pope reflected on the figure of women. In the Gospels, women are described as witnesses of the resurrection, an even which remains “mysterious”, the Pope stated, “not as something unreal, but as something beyond the reach of our knowledge – as a light so bright the eyes cannot bear it.” This event “transformed history and gave meaning to human existence.” “In those days, in Israel, women’s testimony could have no official legal value,” Ratzinger explained. But the angels entrust this task to women, because “women have experienced a special bond with the Lord, which is crucial for the practical life of the Christian community, and this always, in every age, not only at the beginning of the Church’s pilgrim journey.”

Over 100 thousand people filled St. Peter’s Square and part of Rome’s Via della Conciliation for the Ester service and to receive the Urbi et Orbi blessing. In his traditional Easter Sunday message to Rome and to the World, Benedict XVI sent a strong appeal for peace in the Middle East and Christian communities in Africa. He especially called for an end to the “bloodshed” in Syria, where clashes continue and where the path of dialogue invoked by the Holy See is still obstructed. But Benedict XVI spoke about the whole Middle Eastern region, Iraq and the Holy Land, expressing the hope that peace between Palestinians and Israelis would be restored. His focus then turned to Africa, saying he hoped the Horn of Africa, Sudan, South Sudan and Mali would find “peace and stability”. His thoughts also went to Nigeria, where two bombings took place on Easter Sunday: one near a church in Kaduna, in the north of the Country, caused 20 deaths. In his appeal, the Pope wished for an end to these “bloody terrorist attacks” and that that the Country would find “the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of its citizens.”

Echoing John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitarem, Benedict XVI expressed his appeal for women to have a more visible role, also within the Church. The letter also referred back to some informal discussions held with a champion of feminism. Wojtyla’s prophetic address is a mixture of two things: the then cardinal Ratzinger’s theological sensibility and a little-known series of encounters between 1987 and 1988 with feminist figures, particularly with Maria Antonietta Macciocchi, a former MP for the Italian Communist Party (PCI), radical MEP and intellectual who adhered to the Marxist-Leninist philosophy.

In an interview with German television channels in August 2006, Benedict XVI called for the recognition of women’s contribution to church and political life, pointing to models of great independence and charisma, such as the scientist Hildegard of Bingen “who fiercely protested against bishops and the Pope”, Catherine of Siena and Bridget of Switzerland. A significant opening towards the role of women, which echoes the way Karol Wojtyla began his talks with Macciocchi in the Apostolic Palace: “I believe in the intellect of women.”

The Curia’s unusual convocation of a lay intellectual woman who had met important figures such as Mao, de Gaulle, Ho Chi Minh and Khomeini, blossomed into a common passion for Althusser’s philosophy. “We must promote the real emancipation of women,” John Paul II said, remembering a key figure of post-1968 leftist feminism. “Some sciences use women to drive their uncontrolled and unscrupulous commercialism. It is business women that specialist banks in the United states count on.”

This attitude was also taken in the Letter to all women of the world, which was sent by the Polish priest to the World Conference on Women in Beijing. this same concern for women is now being expressed by Pope Benedict XVI. From the memory of the encounters which contributed to the writing of the historic Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitarem, comes a declaration which accompanies Benedict XVI’s last “feminist” appeal: “The female intellect can be found even in the darkest periods of history and is the springboard of human and historic progress.”

The Gospel says that Jesus did all that he could so that women could find their own “subjectivity and dignity” in his teachings and actions. Ratzinger’s opening up to women rests not only on Wojtyla’s exhortation (“May every woman fully express the richness of her own personality, in service of life, peace and real human development”), but also on the final Second Vatican Council message addressed forty years ago, which stated: “The time has come when women have an unprecedented influence, reach and power. This is why, at a moment in which humanity is undergoing such a profound transformation, women who are enlightened by the evangelical spirit can do so much to prevent humanity from decaying.”


April 10, 2012 - Posted by | Catholicism, Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI, Women

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