By Marta Lago
ROME, FEB. 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Pope John Paul II’s 20-year-old letter on women is more relevant than ever, because the truth of the person is being undermined by a “gender revolution,” said the archbishop of Toledo, Spain.
Cardinal Antonio Cañizares affirmed this to ZENIT during the international conference on the theme “Woman and Man: The ‘Humanum’ in its Entirety.” The Vatican conference marked the 20th anniversary of John Paul II’s apostolic letter “Mulieris Dignitatem.” Benedict XVI addressed the conference participants Saturday, the day it ended.
Basing himself on the text of John Paul II, the cardinal offered the first address of the convention, outlining alarming perspectives regarding respect for the truth of the person as man or woman.
The cardinal told ZENIT that he believes “Mulieris Dignitatem” is more relevant than ever since in the letter, the Polish Pope expressed “the truth of man, that is man and woman, and establishes anthropological principles.”
“In these moments,” Cardinal Cañizares lamented, “a gender revolution is questioning deep down this truth of man, inseparable moreover from that of God.”
The cardinal said a key of the papal text is the explanation that “man is created by God, constituted with a truth: a unique humanity differentiated in man-woman.”
That “difference leads to unity, to communion,” he affirmed. “There cannot be dominion of one over the other, but rather respect for the dignity of both in their singularity and unrepeatableness.”
Cardinal Cañizares said that a well-organized cultural revolution, incarnated in lobbyists, legislative initiatives and the press, promote a “gender ideology” that rejects sexuality as a defining characteristic of the person.
“The human being becomes the result of the desire of choice,” the cardinal said. “Regardless of the physical sex,” the person — whether man or woman — “can choose his or her gender” and later on, modify the choice if so desired, taking on homosexual, heterosexual, transsexual or other lifestyles.
The 62-year-old cardinal warned that the “social and cultural change that this phenomenon implies has far reaching effects” given that for this ideology “nature doesn’t exist, the truth of man doesn’t exist, only unlimited freedom.”
In this revolution, he noted, “the nexus of individual-family-society is lost and the person is reduced to an individual,” and we observe, therefore, “the radical questioning of the family and its truth — a marriage between a man and a woman open to life — and of all of society.”
Cardinal Cañizares said the panorama of modern culture manifests the need for a rereading of “Mulieris Dignitatem” in which John Paul II outlined the anthropological and theological roots of the truth of the human person — man and woman.
The cardinal recalled how the papal text uses the story of creation in Genesis as the foundation for the teaching on the human person. It notes that God is the creator of the person, and man and woman’s creation is “the culmination of the creation that God saw was good,” the cardinal stated.
“The human species, that has its origin in the calling into existence of the man and the woman, crowns the entire work of creation. Both are human beings in the same level,” he continued. The biblical description also “speaks of God’s institution of matrimony, in the beginning of the creation of man and woman, as an indispensable condition for the transmission of life. […] It is about a reciprocal relationship, of man with the woman and of woman with the man.”
Because of all of this “man-being” and “woman-being” are realities “desired by God” “in their equality and in their differences, both the one and the other have a common dignity,” Cardinal Cañizares affirmed.
Called to communion
The archbishop of Toledo further reflected that the truth of man involves his call to communion.
John Paul II’s letter proclaimed the fact that man and woman “are created as persons in the image of God who is love, to live in communion” and from this flows their reciprocity and that the person is called to exist for others, becoming a gift, he said. “It is not that God has made them ‘incomplete'” but rather that he has created them “for a communion of persons, in which each one can be ‘help’ for the other because they are at the same time equal as persons and complementary as masculine and feminine.”
The cardinal contended that love, therefore, is what defines the truth of the person — man and woman — and is the essence and the duty of the family; “that’s why the family receives the mission of living, caring for, revealing and communicating love as a living reflection of God, who is love.”
“A family securely placed in this faithful attention for the other, in this communion of love of persons, exudes affection and creates the possibility of going out into the world with joy,” he said. The consequences are extremely important because in this way, in the family, “children grow within a solid reality and perceive that living is a joyful experience and a grace, not a misfortune or a risky destiny.”