“The violence which so many individuals and peoples continue to experience, the wars which still cause bloodshed in many areas of the world, and the injustice which burdens the life of whole continents can no longer be tolerated.”
You would think those words were spoken yesterday. Terrorism, shootings, and other acts of violence seem to overtake our news these days. But this call to action was actually made over 20 years ago, by St. Pope John Paul II (JP2) in his 1995 address for World Day of Peace.
In that same address, JP2 advocated for a particular solution – the advancement of women.
“The work of building peace can hardly overlook the need to acknowledge and promote the dignity of women as persons, called to play a unique role in educating for peace,” he wrote. “I urge everyone to reflect on the critical importance of the role of women in the family and in society, and to heed the yearning for peace which they express in words and deeds and, at times of greatest tragedy, by the silent eloquence of their grief.”
Most people probably wouldn’t get so worked up over water bottles. But as a young feminist, when my grandma told me to let my younger brother carry the heavy case of Aquafina, I was livid. “Seriously?!” I thought, “why does she think I’m so dainty and weak?!”
Feminism was in my blood from the beginning, it seems. In Kindergarten when a boy tried to chase me around the playground, I ran for a bit and then stopped, paused, and confronted him. “Why are you chasing me?”
“Uh, I dunno…” he muttered.
“Well, I’M going to chase YOU then.”
I was never one to be mistaken for meek and mild.
In 1988, Pope John Paul II published the Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem, which means in Latin “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.”
Read it from the Vatican here.
Or get this book version, which includes commentary.
Some key points and thought-provoking quotes:
- A woman, Mary, is at the center of human salvation because it was through her that Jesus came into the world
- In her “fullness of grace” Mary signifies the fullness and perfection of what is feminine
both man and woman are human beings to an equal degree, both are created in God’s image.”