The image of God is not only displayed in man and woman individually but also together as a couple.
These were the words of Pope Francis during his General Audience today in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father said that today’s catechesis and the following will reflect on the sacrament of marriage and the complementarity between man and woman.
The Pope began his catechesis by recalling the story of creation in which God, after creating the universe and all living things, created his masterpiece: mankind.
“As we all know, sexual difference is present in many forms of life, in the long ladder of the living,” he noted. “But only man and woman carry within them the image and likeness of God.”
Genesis, he explained, not only explains that man and woman individually bear this likeness to God, but also together as a couple.
“The difference between man and woman is not for opposition, or subordination, but for communion and creation, always in the image and likeness of God.”
The 78 year old Pontiff went on to say that without the mutual enrichment in their relationship, neither can truly understand what it means to be man and woman. While modern culture has opened new ways and freedoms to understand these differences, the Pope noted that it also introduced “many doubts and much skepticism.”
“I wonder, for example, if the so-called gender theory is also an expression of frustration and resignation, which aims to erase sexual difference because they can no longer deal with it. Yes, we risk taking a step back,” he said.
“The removal of the difference, in fact, is the problem, not the solution. To solve their relationship problems, man and the woman should instead talk more, listen more, know more, [and] love each other more. They must treat each other with respect and cooperate with friendship.”
The Pope went on to call on intellectuals to not abandon the importance of this theme, which he said has become secondary.
The Covenant Between Man and Woman
Continuing his catechesis, Pope Francis focused on two important aspects that were crucial in fostering the complementarity between man and woman.
The first, he said, was the need for women to not only be heard, but that “her voice has a real weight, a recognized authority, in society and in the Church.” This, he noted, was the same way in which Jesus considered the role of women.
“Jesus considered [woman] in such a way that gives a strong light, that enlightens a path that takes us far, from which we’ve only covered a small piece,” he said.
“We have not yet understood in depth what things the feminine genius can give us, that woman can give to society and also to us. Perhaps to see things with different eyes that complements the thoughts of men. It is a path that must be crossed with more creativity and more boldness.”
The second reflection the Jesuit Pope offered regarded the theme of man and woman created in God’s image. The collective mistrust in God, he said, gives way to incredulity and cynicism and connects to the crisis between man and woman. This division is exemplified in the creation story in which this covenant is broken once sin entered.
“In fact, the biblical story, with the grand symbolic fresco of the earthly paradise and original sin, precisely tells us that the communion with God is reflected in the communion of the human couple and the loss of trust in the Heavenly Father generates division and conflict between man and woman,” he said.
Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis said that the Church has the responsibility of rediscovering the beauty of God’s design in the covenant between man and woman.
“Jesus encourages us explicitly to give witness to this beauty, which is the image of God,” he concluded.
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For the full translation of the Pope’s General Audience address, go to: