Pope Francis: Motherhood Is Key to Women's Role in Church

Speaking to participants in a seminar called “God entrusts humanity to women,” Pope Francis on Saturday affirmed women's role of motherhood as a key to understanding the role of women in the Church.

According to the Vatican Information Service (VIS) Pope Francis remarked that Blessed John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter, Mulieris dignitatem (Latin for The Dignity of Women), “is an historical document, the first of the pontifical Magisterium entirely dedicated to the theme of women.” He said the key to understanding the former pope’s letter is motherhood:

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.

The pope warned that there are two dangers--“two extreme opposites”--that insult a woman’s vocation to motherhood.

“The first is to reduce maternity to a social role” in a way that fails to acknowledge the way in which women build communities.

In reaction to this tendency, Francis said some have made the mistake of promoting “a type of emancipation” for women that is characterized by women taking the place of men while abandoning their feminine qualities along with their valuable characteristics.

“And here I would like to emphasize 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,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said within the context of women’s role as mothers, the Church must renew the discussion of their role, both in society and in the Church, in order to promote greater recognition of women in the work of the Church.

In concluding his comments to participants in the symposium, the pope said, “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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