Underlines Family's Need for Both Parents, Couple's Need for Church
LUANDA, Angola,(Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is affirming the role of women in the Church and society, and is appealing to them to defend the family and to protect cultural and religious values.
The Pope said this today to representatives of Catholic movements at a meeting in Santo António Parish of Luanda on the topic of the promotion of women.
He underlined Mary's role in the Gospel story of the wedding at Cana, noting that "her maternal mediation thus made possible the 'good wine,' prefiguring a new covenant between divine omnipotence and the poor but receptive human heart."
The Pontiff extended a special greeting to all women, "to whom God has entrusted the wellsprings of life," saying, "I invite you to live and to put your trust in life, because the living God has put his trust in you!"
He called on his listeners to be aware of the "adverse conditions to which many women have been -- and continue to be -- subjected, paying particular attention to ways in which the behavior and attitudes of men, who at times show a lack of sensitivity and responsibility, may be to blame."
He added, "This forms no part of God's plan."
God's plan, he noted, in creating woman, was to fashion "for the man the helper he still lacked," and to endow "this helper in a privileged way by incorporating the order of love, which had seemed under-represented in creation."
The Holy Father explained, "In fact, gazing upon the captivating charm that radiates from woman due to the inner grace God has given her, the heart of man is enlightened and he sees himself reflected in her."
He exhorted his audience to "recognize, affirm and defend the equal dignity of man and woman" because "they are both persons, utterly unique among all the living beings found in the world."
Benedict XVI affirmed: "Man and woman are both called to live in profound communion through a reciprocal recognition of one another and the mutual gift of themselves, working together for the common good through the complementary aspects of masculinity and femininity.
"Who today can fail to recognize the need to make more room for the 'reasons of the heart?'
"In a world like ours, dominated by technology, we feel the need for this feminine complementarity, so that the human race can live in the world without completely losing its humanity."
Drawing on the examples of two women, Teresa Gomes and Maria Bonino, he observed that in harsh and difficult situations, "it is almost always women who manage to preserve human dignity, to defend the family and to protect cultural and religious values."
Mothers and fathers
The Pope emphasized that "the presence of a mother within the family is so important for the stability and growth of this fundamental cell of society, that it should be recognized, commended and supported in every possible way." He added, "For the same reason, society must hold husbands and fathers accountable for their responsibilities towards their families."
He pointed out, however, "that no human couple, alone and on its own strength, can adequately offer children love and a genuine understanding of life."
There needs to be a higher and more trustworthy authority than parents alone can offer, he affirmed, "which God, through his Son Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, has established within human history, namely the Church."
The Pontiff continued: "We find at work here the eternal and indestructible love which guarantees to each of us that our life will always have meaning, even if we do not know what the future will bring.
"For this reason, the building up of every Christian family takes place within the larger family, the Church, which sustains the domestic family and holds it close to her heart, giving it the assurance that it is protected, now and in the future, by the 'yes' of the Creator."