During a recent audience with members of an Italian women’s group, Pope Francis expressed his joy at the increased role of women in the world and the Church and said it was only in a “dialogue with God” that they can discern how to balance their careers with responsibilities in the home.
In his address to the Centro Italiano Femminile (Italian Women’s Center), he said that along with former popes, he too has considered the indispensable contribution of women in society.
“I have rejoiced in seeing many women sharing some pastoral responsibility with priests in accompanying people, families and groups, as in theological reflection, and I have expressed my hope that greater room can be made for a more capillary and incisive female presence in the Church”, he said.
“If in the world of work and in the public sphere a more incisive contribution by the female gender is important, then this contribution also remains indispensable within the domain of the family, which for Christians is not simply a private space, but rather that ‘domestic Church’ whose health and prosperity is a condition for the health and prosperity of the Church of society itself.”
He went on to ask the obvious question: ” . . . (H)ow is it possible for women to increase their effective presence in many contexts within the public sphere, in the world of work and in places where the most important decisions are made, and at the same time maintaining their presence and preferential and entirely special attention in and for the family? Here it is the field of discernment that, aside from reflection on the reality of women in society, presupposes assiduous and persistent prayer. It is in dialogue with God, enlightened by prayer, that the Christian woman continually searches to answer the Lord’s call, in the reality of her situation.”
Francis encouraged women to turn to Mary, “who cared for her divine Son, who propitiated his first miracle at the wedding at Cana, who was present on Calvary and at the Pentecost,” and who “shows you the road to take to deepen the meaning and role of women in society and to be fully faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and to your mission in the world”.
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