By Arnold Neliba
VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2023 (CISA)-Pope Francis in his audience with Catholic women in the Vatican noted that our world is in dire need of peace, challenging women globally to help in peacebuilding through their capacity to build relationships.
The meeting was held at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall ahead of the General Assembly of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO) in Assisi from May 14 to 20.
“There is a need for greater appreciation of women’s capacity for relationship and giving. And men need to better understand the richness of the reciprocity they owe to women, in order to recover those anthropological elements that characterize human identity and, with it, that of woman and her role in the family and society, where she does not cease to be a beating heart,” Pope Francis said in the Saturday meeting.
Despite being tools of peace, the pope decried how the anthropological identity of women is also in danger as they are used as tools, as subjects of political disputes and cultural ideologies that ignore the beauty with which they were created.
“And if we want to know what humanity is without woman, what man is without woman, we have it in the first page of the Bible: loneliness. Man without woman is alone. Humanity without woman is alone. A culture without women is lonely. Where there is no woman, there is loneliness, arid loneliness that breeds sadness and all manner of harm to humanity. Where there is no woman, there is loneliness,” he added.
According to the pontiff, “women have the ability to think what they feel, to feel what they think and do, and to do what they feel and think. I encourage you to continue to offer this sensitivity in the service of others.”
The Pope expressed his hopes that the women may be enlivened by the Spirit while keeping in mind the founding principles of WUCWO. He admonished them to “look to the future with your eyes and heart open to the world, to listen to the lament of so many women in the world who suffer injustice, abandonment, discrimination, and poverty.”
During the audience on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis urged the women to emulate the Virgin Mary as their mentor. He said, “Mary teaches you to generate life and to always protect it, relating to others from tenderness and compassion.”
“…live, like Mary, the fullness of being women with the awareness of being chosen to carry out God’s saving work,” he told about 1500 Catholic Women in Rome for their meeting.
The President General of WUCWO, Maria Lia Zervino, in her address thanked the Pope for his support for WUCWO and the work of its over 8 million women around the world, committed to evangelization and human development.
“Today is a historic day for the women of WUCWO and we would like to sing the Magnificat with Mary. Magnificat, for the gift of the Holy Spirit given to us by His pontificate, in which women are exhorted to be apostles like Mary Magdalene and whose rights and dignity she zealously safeguarded,” she said.
Zervino termed the meeting between the pope and the women of WUCWO as an opportunity to “learn to walk together in synodality”.