Pope Francis took advantage of International Women’s Day to tell members of the American Jewish Committee on Friday that “women make the world beautiful.”
“Today, 8 March, I would also like to say a few words about the irreplaceable contribution of women in building a world that can be a home for all,” the pope said. “Women make the world beautiful, they protect it and keep it alive.”
Women also “bring the grace of renewal, the embrace of inclusion, and the courage to give of oneself,” the pontiff continued. “Peace, then, is born of women, it arises and is rekindled by the tenderness of mothers. Thus the dream of peace becomes a reality when we look towards women.”
“It is not by chance that in the account of Genesis the woman comes from the side of the man while he is sleeping, the pope added. “Women, that is, have their origins close to a heart and a dream. They therefore bring the dream of love into the world. If we take to heart the importance of the future, if we dream of a future peace, we need to give space to women.”
The pope also took the occasion to reflect on the scourge of anti-Semitism that is growing in certain parts of the world, which the pope called “a source of great concern to me.”
A “climate of wickedness and fury” is spreading in many places, the pope said, “in which an excessive and depraved hatred is taking root. I think especially of the outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks in various countries.”
He also underscored the necessity to be “vigilant” about the phenomenon of antisemitism.
“History teaches us where even the slightest perceptible forms of anti-Semitism can lead: the human tragedy of the Shoah in which two-thirds of European Jewry were annihilated,” he said, citing a text from the Catholic Commission for Religious Relations with Jews.
For a Christian, he said, “any form of antisemitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction.”
“In the fight against hatred and antisemitism, an important tool is interreligious dialogue, aimed at promoting a commitment to peace, mutual respect, the protection of life, religious freedom, and the care of creation,” he said.
Along with dialogue and other tools for encouraging greater solidarity, the pope highlighted the “rich spiritual heritage” shared by Jews and Christians.
“At a time when the West is exposed to a depersonalizing secularism, it falls to believers to seek out each other and to cooperate in making divine love more visible for humanity; and to carry out concrete gestures of closeness to counter the growth of indifference,” he said.
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