Letter to Women – Week 3
Week Three: Obstacles of Freedom
In the Holy Father’s own words:
Women will increasingly play a part in the solution of the serious problems of the future: leisure time, the quality of life, migration, social services, euthanasia, drugs, health care, the ecology, etc. In all these areas a greater presence of women in society will prove most valuable, for it will help to manifest the contradictions present when society is organized solely according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity, and it will force systems to be redesigned in a way which favours the processes of humanization which mark the “civilization of love.”
John Paul II avoids two extremes when it comes to the role women play in the world. On the one hand, he avoids the extreme that says biological motherhood, while of singular importance, is the only aspect of woman that gives her life meaning and value. Strong women, wives, and mothers are crucial in the home, but women are also desperately needed in the public square. He not only acknowledges this reality but encourages the feminine genius to be present “increasingly” and “in all areas.” The ideals of Catholic Social Teaching will become a reality in the public square only if feminine complementarity is there to guard it.
In reading and studying Chapter 3, I was struck by three questions that must be considered if Catholic Social Teaching principles are going to be applied properly:
- Does it serve the good of the human person?
- Does it serve the “common good?”
- Does it proclaim the Gospel in its service? (The first two criteria seem to grant the third.)
Emily Stimpson Chapman writes in Chapter 3, “When seen through this lens, it becomes more understandable why John Paul II devoted so much time to combating discrimination against women. Social movements that seek to deny the importance of motherhood or that limit women’s professional contributions inhibit the full flourishing of the feminine genius. These social movements are bad for both individual women and society, not simply politically or economically but spiritually.”
What John Paul II helps us to realize when we look at the various expressions of the culture of death, for example, abortion is that its prevalence and acceptance is a political symptom of what is fundamentally an anthropological problem. He understood the urgent need for the feminine genius as the spiritual and cultural “solution” to the political and economic.
Pray on it: Do I allow for “holy interruptions” in my day? Do I consistently choose the “personal” and “particular” as opposed to the “productive” and “efficient?” Does my presence elevate the humanity of my environments?