VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Christian women must lead in the discovery and promotion of a new feminism that underlines God’s plan for human persons, said the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace president.
Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino noted this in his conclusions from the 1st International Conference on Woman and Human Rights.
The conference, which focused on the theme of “Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights,” was held last Friday and Saturday in Rome. It was organized by the council in collaboration with the World Women’s Alliance for Life and Family, and the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization.
The cardinal described the outline of a new feminism that brings together the best intuitions from the process of woman’s emancipation, while denying that which is contrary to the true dignity of a person.
He affirmed: “There will be no new feminism without God, especially if God is not discovered as Love.
“The old feminism was based on egocentric individualism, often egotistical. The new feminism must be interlaced with love for life, for the family, for others; a feminism regulated by charity, the queen of the virtues.”
Cardinal Martino explained that it must promote a “yes feminism,” that encompasses a “yes” to God, Father of the whole of humanity and Creator of man and woman in his image and likeness, a “yes” to life, to all life and to everyone’s life, always, a “yes” to the family founded on marriage, a unitive and fruitful love between a man and a woman, and a “yes” to women and to their genius.
Referring to the debate that took place during the working sessions of the congress, the cardinal emphasized that feminine emancipation has been and is an historical event, marked by ambivalent and contrasting meanings, on which constant, patient, intelligent and wise Christian discernment must be exercised, to extract the good, combat the evil, and guide what is uncertain.
This discernment, he added, must be “inspired and guided by integral humanism with solidarity, firmly directed to advancing the civilization of love.”
The first challenge this feminism must address refers to the relationship between nature and culture, he noted, “where the essential question lies: what is the human person, sexual difference [and] the identity of marriage and of the family.”
He continued: “To deny nature, that is, to deny that the human person is above all a project loved and accomplished by God the Creator, which it is not good to subvert arbitrarily, is the focal point that must be made very clear. When nature is denied, the human person is no longer a project, but becomes inexorably a product either of culture or of technology.”
The cardinal asserted that Christian women must promote “a feminism inspired by a concept of the person, understood as a project of God.
“When what is at stake are the principles of the natural moral law or the very dignity of a human creature, there can be no compromise,” he affirmed.
The cardinal noted the challenge of education in these concepts: “It is necessary to free oneself courageously from all the cultural dead weight, typical of underdevelopment and overdevelopment, which mortifies the integral dignity of woman and her fundamental rights as person.
“The dead weight, which must be denounced as structures of sin, is still great, too great, and denies God’s project. The key way to free ourselves from it is to invest abundantly in women, through education and formation.”
Cardinal Martino referred to the need to respond to the “unacceptable scandal of poverty” that affects, above all, women and children today.
A new feminism must be proposed, he concluded, which has as its objective a world of more justice and solidarity.”