Needs Women’s Genius
By Pope John Paul II
- Message delivered on August 6, 1995
May Mary obtain for all the women in the world a full awareness of their
potential and their role at the service of a culture which is ever more
truly human and in conformity with God's plan.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to introduce our reflection on woman's role, a
reflection accompanying us during the weeks of preparation for the Beijing
meeting, with a mention of the Servant of God, Paul VI, who died here in
Castel Gandolfo exactly seventeen years ago.
Speaking of Maria Montessori in
1970, on the occasion of the centenary of her birth, he remarked that the
secret of her success, in a certain sense the very origin of her scientific
merits, should be sought in her soul or in that spiritual sensitivity and
feminine outlook which enabled her to make the "vital discovery" of the
child and led her to conceive of an original form of education on this basis
(cf. Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, VIII , 88).
The name of Montessori is
clearly representative of all women who have made important contributions to
Unfortunately, in looking
objectively at historical reality, we are compelled to notice with regret
that, even at this level, women have suffered the effects of systematic
marginalization. For too long their opportunities for expression outside the
family have been denied or restricted, and the women who, despite being thus
penalized, succeeded in asserting themselves have had to be very
It is time, therefore, to close the gap between the cultural opportunities
for men and women. I deeply hope that the forthcoming Beijing
Conference will provide a decisive impetus in this direction.
This will benefit not only
women but culture itself, since the vast and variegated world of thought and
art has a greater need of their "genius" than ever. Let this not seem
a gratuitous assertion!
Cultural activity calls into
question the human person as a whole, in the twofold complementary
sensitivity of man and woman.
This is always important, but
especially when the ultimate questions about life are at stake. Who is man?
What is his destiny? What is the meaning of life? These decisive
questions do not find a satisfactory answer in the laboratories of positive
science, but they profoundly challenge man and require, so to speak a
"global thinking" that can harmonize with the sphere of mystery. To
this end, how could the contribution of the feminine mind be undervalued?
Women's increasingly qualified entrance, not only as beneficiaries but also
as protagonists, into the world of culture in all its branches—from
philosophy to theology, from the social to the natural sciences, from the
figurative arts to music—is a very hopeful sign for humanity.
Let us turn our gaze trustingly to the Blessed Virgin. Like the other
women of her time, she bore the burden of an age when little room was
allowed them. Yet the Son of God did not hesitate, in some ways, to
learn from her! May Mary obtain for all the women in the world a full
awareness of their potential and their role at the service of a culture
which is ever more truly human and in conformity with God's plan.
Weekly Edition in English
August 9-16, 1995, page 1.
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