Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 18, 2008
Pope decries chauvinism, violence against women
Dignity belongs to women in law and reality
By CAROL GLATZ
“Children have a right to be able to count on their father and mother.”
The pope told some 250 participants during a special audience at the Vatican that discrimination can be the result of “religious arguments and family, social and cultural pressures” aimed at supporting “the disparity of the sexes.”
The pope recalled a speech he gave last year in Brazil, at a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean bishops, in which he criticized the persistent “chauvinistic mentality” that “ignores the novelty of Christianity which recognizes and proclaims the equal dignity and responsibility of women with respect to men.”
He highlighted how, in some societies, women continue to be violated and are turned into objects “of maltreatment and exploitation in advertising and the consumer and entertainment industry.”
Faced with such “serious and relentless phenomena, the commitment of Christians seems all the more urgent so that everywhere they become promoters of a culture that recognizes the dignity that belongs to women in law and in reality,” he said.
The Church teaches that men and women are equal in dignity; however, there exist real sexual differences that are not cultural constructions, but are “written into human nature,” he said.
He paid special attention to the family.
“Starting from their conception, children have a right to be able to count on their father and mother — that they will take care of them and be with them while growing up,” he said.
For that reason, he said, governments must do all they can to support social policies that “foster the stability and unity of marriage, the dignity and responsibility of husband and wife, (and) their rights and irreplaceable duty to educate their children.”
The pope emphasized that women must be allowed to contribute to “the construction of society,” and people must recognize and enhance the “feminine genius.”
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