A Word in Season
A Theology of Women? What does Pope Francis Mean?
to create "a new feminism" that speaks to the modern culture.
Finally, we cannot fail to mention that the Catholic Church has a powerful social doctrine whereby the dignity of the human person reigns supreme, and the dignity and vocation of women is attendant to that. It is perhaps here that we may find hints of Pope Francis's future contribution.
A theology of womanhood can be gleaned from these many sources, if people only have time (and the inclination) to do the gleaning.
Perhaps what we really need is a deeper reception of our existing theology of womanhood, and work toward making its claims more universal? The whole purpose of my book was to introduce these basic theological musings about women.
The enemy of human nature—Satan—hits hardest where there is more salvation, more transmission of life, and the woman—as an existential place—has proven to be the most attacked in history. She has been the object of use, of profit, and slavery, and was relegated to the background... (From On Heaven and Earth, p. 102)
True enough: women around the world still do not enjoy the freedoms that their human dignity entitles them. From the book of Genesis, from the fall until now, the woman has been targeted by evil. Yet, through the womanhood of Mary comes a savior who saves and inspires us to see and do the more he wishes to accomplish.
In the name of Jesus, and with the heart of Mary who stands at the foot of the cross, the Church must not only look within, but look without. It must not only stand with women who suffer, but alleviate their need.
Women, themselves, too, must embrace a deeper call. Never before in world history have there been so many women who have been given so much materially. Yet one of woman's greatest feminine gifts has nothing to do with material advancement; it is the gift of maternity—both the physical kind and the spiritual maternity that embraces society, contains it, and brings new life to it.
Somewhere, within Francis's words on the plane the other day, I heard echoes of Paul VI at the close of Vatican II extolling women to come to the aid of humanity for love's sake.
But the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which the woman acquires an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment.... Women impregnated with the spirit of Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.
We, indeed, have a sure foundation for a theology of women.
Francis, let women assist you in rebuilding the Church, and bringing new life to the world!
Pat Gohn is a Catholic writer, speaker, and the host of the Among Women Podcast and blog. Her book Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is published by Ave Maria Press. Subscribe to “A Word in Season” via email or RSS.