I was on FoxNews.com’s live show with Lauren Green earlier today, marking International Women’s Day and the announcement of a papal conclave start date. We talked a bit about women and the Church and what women want. As I indicated in a recent piece, if we look around, there is evidence that women want to hear more about what the Church proposes about nothing less than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Mary Hasson has offered and continues to work on some fascinating survey research, asking Catholic women what they know and what they want to hear. It is encouraging to know that there is a hunger for the Church proposes, including about contraception. Lovingly and compellingly presented, a full image of the fullness of human life and love would be a true gift to the world.
Paul VI warned us in Humanae Vitae. Pope John Paul painted a picture for us in his Theology of the Body lectures, as well as his specific writings about women. Pope Benedict brought us deeper into the Trinitarian dance we are called to. Let us pray that the next Holy Father helps set the world ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit, re-proposing basic truths, welcoming the world into the joys of the faith of our Father.
As I discussed at Fox, Pope Benedict started the work of the next pope, by continuing the work of earlier popes. In many ways, but back to “Women’s Day” for now — which everyday is in the Church, as it happens: As some of you have heard before, in October, at the opening Mass of the Year of Faith, he presented me with this wonderful message, the same message Paul VI presented to the women of the world:
And now it is to you that we address ourselves, women of all states—girls, wives, mothers and widows, to you also, consecrated virgins and women living alone—you constitute half of the immense human family. As you know, the Church is proud to have glorified and liberated woman, and in the course of the centuries, in diversity of characters, to have brought into relief her basic equality with man. But the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.
You women have always had as your lot the protection of the home, the love of beginnings and an understanding of cradles. You are present in the mystery of a life beginning. You offer consolation in the departure of death. Our technology runs the risk of becoming inhuman. Reconcile men with life and above all, we beseech you, watch carefully over the future of our race. Hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, might attempt to destroy human civilization.
Wives, mothers of families, the first educators of the human race in the intimacy of the family circle, pass on to your sons and your daughters the traditions of your fathers at the same time that you prepare them for an unsearchable future. Always remember that by her children a mother belongs to that future which perhaps she will not see.
And you, women living alone, realize what you can accomplish through your dedicated vocation. Society is appealing to you on all sides. Not even families can live without the help of those who have no families. Especially you, consecrated virgins, in a world where egoism and the search for pleasure would become law, be the guardians of purity, unselfishness and piety. Jesus who has given to conjugal love all its plenitudes, has also exalted the renouncement of human love when this is for the sake of divine love and for the service of all.
Lastly, women in trial, who stand upright at the foot of the cross like Mary, you who so often in history have given to men the strength to battle unto the very end and to give witness to the point of martyrdom, aid them now still once more to retain courage in their great undertakings, while at the same time maintaining patience and an esteem for humble beginnings.
Women, you do know how to make truth sweet, tender and accessible, make it your task to bring the spirit of this council into institutions, schools, homes and daily life. Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.
Isn’t that something? Shouldn’t that be presented to every woman in the world? Isn’t it a scandal the world does not know this is how the Catholic Church views women?
Imagine if the world truly saw women impregnated by the Gospel!
May we bask in it, be challenged by it. May we communicate and receive it!