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Food for thought

Jesus was not afraid
of women

06 March 2021

Jesus was not afraid of women! Several passages in the Gospels support this assertion and here it is sufficient to recall three of them.

The encounter with the considered impure hemorrhaging women, who touched his cloak, and broke a religious and social taboo. The anointing at Bethany, in which a woman anointed his feet with perfume, then kissed them and dried them with her hair, outraging all those present as she did so. Finally, but with even greater importance, the appearance of the Risen One to Mary of Magdala, a woman chosen as the first witness and announcer of the resurrection.

From then on, thereafter? What has happened in two thousand years of Christianity? Is the Gospel still good news for women too, or are they feared in the Church, and therefore marginalized as a response?

We certainly cannot speak of a linear and univocal history, but of a succession of “ups and downs” that show, at times, the greatest of devaluations and marginalizations. To this is combined an exaggerated idealization of the feminine in which, however, real women cannot recognize themselves.

We find witches and we find saints, (the latter of which there are always too few, however, compared to their male counterparts), but, in any case, what very often emerges is tremendous difficulty in the establishment of an equitable relationship of mutual exchange. In profundity, this subordination reveals the fear of those with whom they do not know how to relate.

What about today? The fear of women in the Church has not disappeared, but it is not an isolated phenomenon; instead, it is the other face of a kind of clericalism, which Pope Francis has so often denounced.

Therefore, the issue of this fear cannot be removed singularly, but its elimination must be part of a broader rethinking of intra-ecclesial relations and the meaning of ordained ministry, which is service and not power. Women are kept at a distance, in fact, because they are not really understood; hence, they are surrounded by an aura of mysteriousness that instills fear. The remedy for this situation can only be found in resolutely embarking on the path of synodality that can see women and men walking together towards a common goal which is that of a real communion of all those who have been baptized, filled with the same grace and having the same dignity.

by Giorgia Salatiello