ROME — “Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman,” said Pope Francis in his New Year’s Day homily in the Vatican.
“The rebirth of humanity began from a woman,” the pope said in reference to Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary. “Women are sources of life. Yet they are continually insulted, beaten, raped, forced to prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in the womb.”
The pontiff’s reflections came during Mass on January 1, when the Catholic church celebrates the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos), as well as the World Day for Peace.
“Humanity’s salvation came forth from the body of a woman: we can understand our degree of humanity by how we treat a woman’s body,” Francis said during Mass held in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
“How often are women’s bodies sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, of profiteering, of pornography, exploited like a canvas to be used,” he continued. “Yet women’s bodies must be freed from consumerism; they must be respected and honoured. Theirs is the most noble flesh in the world, for it conceived and brought to light the love that has saved us!”
“In our day, too, motherhood is demeaned, because the only growth that interests us is economic growth,” the pope said. “There are mothers who risk difficult journeys desperately seeking to give a better future to the fruit of their womb, yet are deemed redundant by people with full stomachs but hearts empty of love.”
The Argentinian pontiff also suggested a connection between peace in the world and greater respect for women while also advocating for an increasing female role in decision-making.
“And if we want a better world, a world that will be a peaceful home and not a war field, may we take to heart the dignity of each woman,” he said. “From a woman was born the Prince of peace.”
“Women are givers and mediators of peace and should be fully included in decision-making processes,” he said. “Because when women can share their gifts, the world finds itself more united, more peaceful. Hence, every step forward for women is a step forward for humanity as a whole.”
Turning his attention to the Virgin Mary, Francis said that as a newborn baby, Jesus “was mirrored in the eyes of the woman, in the face of his mother. From her, he received his first caresses; with her, he exchanged the first smiles. With her began the revolution of tenderness.”
“The Church, looking at the baby Jesus, is called to continue that revolution,” he said.