POPE SPEAKS TO WOMEN’S GROUPS
BY JOHN THAVIS, CNS
POPE BENEDICT praised the “silent heroines” of Africa who hold families and society together at a meet
ing with women’s rights groups on Sunday.
The Pope said that African women in particular were working under adverse conditions often caused by the “behaviour and attitudes of men”.
He said: “History records almost exclusively the accomplishments of men, when in fact much of it is due to the determined, unrelenting and charitable action of women.
“Think of all the places afflicted by great poverty or devastated by war, and of all the tragic situations resulting from migrations, forced or otherwise. It is almost always women who manage to preserve human dignity, to defend the family and to protect cultural and religious values,” he said. The Pontiff was speaking to members of Catholic movements working for women’s promotion at St Anthony church in Luanda, where a mostly female audience greeted him with lively African singing.
Church and human rights agencies say women in many parts of Africa are still treated as property, lack legal rights, suffer intimidation and beatings by their husbands, and are subject to sexual violence and human trafficking.
The Pope appealed for everyone to pay greater attention to these situations, and especially to “ways in which the behaviour and attitudes of men, who at times show a lack of sensitivity and responsibility, may be to blame”. The Pope said there was a natural “captivating charm that radiates from woman” because of the grace God has given her. Man is enlightened by this quality, he said.
“We must recognise, affirm and defend the equal dignity of man and woman: they are both persons, utterly unique among all the living beings found in the world,” he said.