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Pope Boldly Defends Rights of Women During African Visit

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer During his first papal trip to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI spoke out in defense of the dignity of women and deplored those who promote abortion as a matter of “reproductive health.” The Holy Father was addressing the leaders of the African nation of Angola when he condemned the promotion of abortion by groups such as Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International as a matter of maternal health care. "How bitter the irony of those who promote abortion as a form of 'maternal' health care," he said. "How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health." He also expressed concern about some groups that are promoting abortion as an international right. Such a policy is promoted by "those who, claiming to improve the 'social edifice,' threaten its very foundations." On Sunday, he visited Santo Antonio parish on the outskirts of the densely populated city of Luanda in Angola. While meeting with representatives of Catholic movements for the promotion of women, he spoke out powerfully in defense of women.   First, he called everyone "to an effective awareness of the adverse conditions to which many women have been - and continue to be - subjected, paying particular attention to ways in which the behaviour and attitudes of men, who at times show a lack of sensitivity and responsibility, may be to blame."   After highlighting the need to "recognise, affirm and defend the equal dignity of man and woman," he went on to explain how both are "called to live in profound communion through a reciprocal recognition of one another and the mutual gift of themselves, working together for the common good through the complementary aspects of masculinity and femininity.” He added: "In a world like ours, dominated by technology, we feel the need for this feminine complementarity, so that the human race can live in the world without completely losing its humanity. Think of all the places afflicted by great poverty or devastated by war, and of all the tragic situations resulting from migrations, forced or otherwise. It is almost always women who manage to preserve human dignity, to defend the family and to protect cultural and religious values."   The Pope lamented the fact that "history records almost exclusively the accomplishments of men, when in fact much of it is due to the determined, unrelenting and charitable action of women.   "No-one today should doubt that women have 'a full right to become actively involved in all areas of public life, and this right must be affirmed and guaranteed, also, where necessary, through appropriate legislation. This acknowledgement of the public role of women should not however detract from their unique role within the family. Here their contribution to the welfare and progress of society, even if its importance is not sufficiently appreciated, is truly incalculable."   Furthermore, "a woman's personal sense of dignity is not primarily the result of juridically defined rights, but rather the direct consequence of the material and spiritual care she receives in the bosom of the family.   "The presence of a mother within the family is so important for the stability and growth of this fundamental cell of society, that it should be recognised, commended and supported in every possible way. For the same reason, society must hold husbands and fathers accountable for their responsibilities towards their families."   Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by highlighting how "the building up of every Christian family takes place within the larger family, the Church, which sustains the domestic family and holds it close to her heart, giving it the assurance that it is protected, now and in the future, by the 'yes' of the Creator."   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com

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