· Vatican City ·

Observatory

Joseph, a model of a just man who speaks to today’s world

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02 October 2021

Marinella Perroni writes that “after the decades in which the various feminisms have forced us to drastically rethink anthropological androcentric conceptions, as well as patriarchal social, political and religious structures, many people have pointed out the need, which has now become unavoidable and urgent, to rethink the universe of masculinity both from a socio-political point of view and at a symbolic level, to free it from age-old distortions and old and new reticences. That is, from everything that prevents it from being subjected to questioning, analysis, evaluation, rethinking and relocation. Against this dynamic backdrop of profound restructuring of gender identities, different perspectives on Joseph of Nazareth can move and intersect, on what he has meant for the Christian-Catholic tradition, but also on what his figure as a man, even more than as a father, can evoke and provoke in those who turn to him with an attentive eye, going in search of his possible meanings, more or less obvious or more or less hidden”.

This is the starting point of the book Maschilità in questione. Sguardi sulla figura di san Giuseppe [Masculinity in Question. Looking at the Figure of Saint Joseph], which the theologian Perroni edited together with the theologian Antonio Autiero, for Queriniana.

Michela Murgia, Cristina Oddone, Paolo Naso, Daniele Bouchard, Elizabeth E. Green, Silvia Zanconato, Simona Segoloni Ruta, Andrea Grillo, Andreas Heek, and Arianna De Simone and Giusi Quarenghi also write for the book: a prism of opinions and in the background a parallelism between the feminine question and the masculine question.  As Autiero emphasizes this, “is the basis of analytical recognition of the problems linked to the crisis of masculinity and the vector for identifying counterweights to resolve it”.

The authors, they emphasize, have assumed “in full the starting point of Francis’ reflection” that in the apostolic letter Patris corde defines Joseph as a “common person”.

Common, but - it goes without saying - not generic. Because he embodies the protagonism of “all those who are apparently hidden or ‘in the second row’” (citing Francis) and in this sense speaks even more to the church of today, even in terms of male-female equality.

A model of a just man who “does not arrogate to himself competencies that go to mark the perimeter of his superiority”, Autiero writes. “In the code of his justice is found the inclusion of an empathy expressed in terms of responsibility and care. And, above all, that genetic factor of equality in dignity, of relational autonomy and of the sharing of tasks emerges, horizons far removed from that presumed conviction of identity, resulting from a construction of roles never subject to criticism, to lay bare its historical genesis, its cultural dependencies, its inclinations towards domination”.

A large volume, full of ideas and, if desired, of various spin-offs. (DCM)