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Procreation

A body that is born from another body: this is what the word “procreation” means. It is women who procreate, when they give birth to another human being. For centuries novels, poetry, science and technology have examined, reflected, studied and plumbed the depths of this fundamental moment of human life that remains mysterious and – at the same time – visible and tangible, universal yet simultaneously intimate and personal.

Giovanni Bellini, “Presentation at the Temple” (1460, detail)

Procreating is common, but for numerous reasons it is not yet easy, for it can bring death and illness to many women and new born babies in a large part of the globe, as Chiara Benedetto, President of the European Board and College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, tells us. Josephine Quintavalle, who founded CORE (Comment on Reproductive Ethics), wonders why science and technology, that could even help procreation, actually persecute it. Yet, in spite of all, in spite of the old dangers of backwardness that endure and those, more ambiguous but equally serious, of modern times, procreation has kept its mystery and power even in the most difficult and tragic situations. Silvina Pérez tells the story of Aria, a Yazidi teenager persecuted, deprived of everything and raped by IS militia, who realized that she was pregnant and ended her tale by affirming: “but I’m going ahead. In a few months I shall have to give this child a name. I shall never be able to return to Mosul. I shall never ever be able to wipe out my shame. I am dead but the light of life is within me”. The light of which Aria is speaking and which dawns in the relationship between mother and child, does not remain entangled in the relationship between bodies – also important – but is successfully transmitted outside them too. Motherhood can become spiritual. The motherhood of women religious – masterfully described by Mother Maria Barbagallo – is just as profound. And it is the greatest example of how faith can exalt and broaden a sentiment to the point of making it universal, permeating the lives of all those who deeply accept its value. At the end of the year of reflection on the theology of women, two pages of the debate – that took place last 3 November in our editorial office – conclude this issue. (r.a.)

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