Keys to Make Use of Feminine "Genius" in Society and the Church

Suggested by President of World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations

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MEXICO CITY, JUNE 10, 2003 ( Education and the recognition of women’s dignity are key means to respond to the Pope’s call to leave more room for the feminine “genius” in society and the Church, says an activist.

María Eugenia Díaz de Pfennich, general president of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, points out, however, that “in the work of catechesis and of evangelization, women already have an important place as individuals or through organizations.”

“Women are a minority in executive posts in parish and diocesan councils,” even though “70% of the faithful” who participate in the life of the Church are women, the WUCWO leader told ZENIT.

In Croatia last Friday, John Paul II said, “Perhaps more than in other periods of history, our time is in need of that ‘genius’ of woman, which in every circumstance assures sensitivity for the human being.”

Addressing his remarks to women, he added: “Your presence is indispensable in the family, in society and in the ecclesial community.”

To achieve this objective, WUCWO’s president believes that “the first advance consists in woman becoming increasingly conscious of her dignity, of her abilities, and of her greater access to higher education.”

Given the above, the first responsibility of women’s organizations is to make it possible for associations to “participate more decidedly at the parish, diocesan, national and international level in decision-making posts,” Pfennich said.

Pfennich believes that the “Latin American woman must be encouraged to participate more actively in the Church, in politics, etc.”

African women must be helped to find “solutions for the difficult situations they experience in their countries,” she added. She warned that “European women have a combative attitude which at times is very similar to that used by men.”

For these reasons, Pfennich believes that the priorities to be addressed are “the education of woman, the eradication of violence against women, and human rights.”

John Paul II has recognized Pfennich’s work by appointing her, in a personal capacity, to the pontifical councils for Justice and Peace, and for the Laity, which she interprets as “recognition of the contribution that women can make at the highest level of the Church.”

WUCWO is a worldwide federation of 102 Catholic women’s organizations and movements. It numbers 5 million members. It says its objective is “to promote the presence, participation and co-responsibility of Catholic women in society and the Church, to help them fulfill their evangelizing mission and their work for the development of peoples.”

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