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An investigation of female identity

· ​The editorial ·

To seek to delve a little more deeply into investigating female identity: this is the goal that we are setting ourselves in the next three issues of women church world. Our investigation can only start from the heart of the difference, motherhood, considered in this issue as the capacity for caring that women know how to exercise in all environments, in private as well as in public life.

Diliber Kelesh, a Syrian woman, cradles her six-month baby in the Idomeni Camp (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Taking care of others, children as well as the weak and the elderly, being concerned with the frailest people is not easy. There are no manuals with hands-on solutions and yet this has always been an art that women learn, practise and witness in their lives. In other words it is a constant practice of mercy and a tangible love which leaves its traces over time and builds relationships.

Moreover, as the events we recount show, the constructive force of motherhood has always been its universality, as has been happening for millennia – from Sr Angela Bertelli’s work in Thailand with her House of Angels to the history of the five women who saved Moses – birth is not required to create and live a bond of motherly care. This is well known to women religious and mothers who are not pregnant, who in their capacity for caring for little ones, the frail and the lowliest, bear a marvellous witness to it in the everyday world.

In our Christian unconscious images of the Pietà, an extreme act of the mother’s care for the body of her crucified Son, are the loftiest and most vivid symbol of this capacity for care – hence for love – which goes beyond death. As Julia Kristeva wrote, “If all love for others is rooted in this fundamental archaic experience, unique and universal, which is maternal love, even if maternal love is the least ambivalent, it is on maternal love that are built the caritas of Christians and the rights of lay people”. Indeed maternal care is the model of reference for every form of humanization of relations between human beings. (giulia galeotti)

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June 18, 2018

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