· At last recognizing the genius of women ·
Queen Elizabeth II conferred the prestigious title of Member of the Order of the British Empire to Sister Imelda Poole, the Catholic religious from Mary Ward, for her commitment to fighting modern forms of slavery. Her bright example reminds us all that the nuns across the world, are the ones who are most committed to opposing human trafficking and life and work conditions that hark back to the dark times of slavery, and sadly, are still very widespread and perhaps even on the rise.
The fact that it is mostly women and minors who suffer from these tragedies only partly explains this feminine vocation within the Church. In reality, this happens because women are more determined and courageous in the fight against exploitation. And they are also the ones who remain close to the victims, sharing with them their inhuman conditions, when the scourge cannot be eradicated from the social point of view. Because they know that silent and steady love can heal horrendous wounds and bring back hope or at least the courage to move forward.
In an entirely different context, a similar case was the subject of an article printed in “Acta Paediatrica” magazine. It reported that parents of children with terminal illnesses to whom palliative care is often given even through life-saving technical means which are not easy to use, prefer to care for their children at home. The advantages are obvious: they avoid infections to which they are fatally exposed in hospital, the children continue to lead a family life and they are better sustained psychologically. This choice, however, means that, after having undergone the appropriate training, the parents have to care for their sick child on their own all day. And it is evident that day after day, care givers encounter increasing difficulties, including physical fatigue, sleep deprivation, social isolation and a decrease in financial resources.
No one would be surprised to know that in most cases, mothers are the ones who do the caring. And today, we can no longer say: It is “because fathers work to support the family”, since today’s mothers can do the same; go out, meet people and, in more fortunate cases, find themselves a profession. This happens because women, more than men, know how to care, how to sacrifice, how to offer daily love, and especially how to erase their own identity for the sake of someone else.
This is undoubtedly what John Paul ii called “the genius of women”, recognizing their greatness and importance. But we ask ourselves today, if this recognition is sufficient, whether the Church, particularly at a time of internal and external crisis, can afford to continue to ignore these women, continue not to listen to their voices and their thoughts. Whether the Church can continue to think that they are not truly the most reliable and convincing witnesses in the Gospel, especially because women are rich in spiritual and human experiences, particularly necessary today for evangelisation, indispensable for an institution that is going through difficulties. As Anne-Marie Pelletier once said: the request is to see and listen to women, not only because they demand this act of justice, but also so that everyone can recognise and learn, in what many women experience, about the true face of the Church as servant, poor and also maternal, a face that is less embodied into the realities of what is mentioned in speeches.
St. Peter’s Square
Nov. 20, 2018
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