Tag Archives: woman

China’s war on women and girls: one-child policy, forced sterilization, forced abortion & infanticide

On Wednesday I joined my friend Suzanne Tanzi, a
fellow traveler among friends in the lay ecclesial movement, Communion and Liberation, to an in-service billed as 
“Gendercide, Sex Trafficking and Violence Against Women” given in light of the Christian perspective as a way to give an alternate voice to the ideology of the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women. By the Way, Suzanne is also the editor of Traces magazine (you ought to subscribe!!!!).

The presentations were heavy and some of them need refining. The content was stimulating and possibly burdensome for the weak of heart. The truth of the violence against women around the world is devastating. I sat listening mourning the presence of evil actions in our society today. We are never very far from human frailty! On the train ride home last evening I stumbled upon a New York Post article about a Wednesday bust on drug use and mid-afternoon sex acts on a bench dedicated to Katharine Hepburn in the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on East 47th Street, got me thinking. This presentation was being given at Holy Family Parish a few steps away from these heinous acts! You see, wanton sexual behavior and drug are not very far from us. The human dignity is at being trampled. But hope enlightened the heart
and mind where one would be tempted to despair. I walked way from the afternoon having been received salt and light, thanks in part, from meeting Reggie Littlejohn.

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ENDOW: a new Feminism Catholic style

ENDOW.jpgENDOW (Educating on the Nature & Dignity of Women) is a Catholic educational program bringing women together to discover what it means to be a woman, made in God’s image and likeness holding a God-given dignity known in being a person. ENDOW is a new feminism promoting the beauty of being a woman.

ENDOW is work was begun in the Archdiocese of Denver and because of its importance the archbishop gave ENDOW a moral standing in the Church by making it a private juridic person. ENDOW exists in 87 dioceses in the USA and a few in Canada. Before ENDOW begins its work in a particular (arch)diocese it asks the permission of the diocesan bishop for his approval and blessing.

The Religious Sisters of Mercy (Alma) helped to write the formation materials aimed at cultivating a true sense of what it means to be a woman through faith, friendship and formation. ENDOW is oriented to the various ages of women in the groups. Age differential helps women work with each other based on experience and wisdom. 

What is a woman’s human dignity? Why is it important to have an appreciation for a woman’s human dignity? First, we have to understand and accept that our value comes from God the Father; that the God created us specifically. Second, we need to have understanding that we live in a relationship of love of/with God, self and the other. Love is sacrificial (sometimes we have to give up our plans for the sake of another) and we find ourselves in giving ourselves to another. Only in self-giving love do know who we are as persons. Therefore, our personhood is not determined by the culture at large. John Paul taught us that all people, particularly women as we are speaking of here, can humanize the context of our lives (at work, home, among friends), it is a special gift of being woman. People like John Paul and Benedict, and others, have said that  the whole world change for the better if you can change woman’s heart, form and heal the hurt of women. The culture has radically hurt women over the centuries that need for healing. Learning and living the truth of our personhood in light of what God intends for us to be will have implications for our lives in the areas of relationships, sex, work, having a healthy psychology, physicality, etc.
Find out by reading about a woman’s dignity as developed on Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Women and Mulieris Dignitatem.
This is not a self-help program. It is an educational program in contact with the Lord. God determines who we are as persons, made in His image and likeness. Courses proposed by ENDOW are offered for adults and youth; it’s supposed to be parish based but some study circles may happen at home; groups of 8-12 are generally the norm. Study guides and leader training guides are available. The idea is to function more-or-less like a “book club” but the work done on a text is meant to dig deeply into faith formation of/for women among friends.
I would hope parishes and Catholic chaplaincies at high schools and universities would adopt the ENDOW methodology.

John Paul II and the Development of a “New Feminism”

Sr Sara Butler.jpgThe April 2010 issue of Inside the Vatican (18:4) published a special commemorative issue observing the papal death of John Paul II and the papal election of Benedict XVI. The editor asked various people to write their memories of one of the popes. Sister Sara Butler, MSBT, a professor of dogmatic theology at St Joseph’s Seminary -Dunwoodie, New York, offered her thoughts on Pope John Paul’s contribution to feminist thinking. Sister Sara is a published author and a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue and the International Theological Commission. Sister remembers:

Looking back over the papacy of the Servant of God John Paul II, I find myself especially grateful for the initiative he took in addressing the feminist critique. The Pope did this in his Letter to Women (1995), his apostolic letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women (Mulieris dignitatem, 1988), and his ground-breaking catecheses on the “theology of the body.” He not only acknowledged the positive contributions of feminist scholarship and offered needed clarifications and correctives in response to their objections; he also spelled out his own appreciation of the “genius” of women and took steps to promote their increased participation in the Church and in the social order. Since the Pope’s death, we are already beginning to see the fruits of his recommendation that Catholic women undertake to develop a “new feminism,” consistent with Catholic doctrine (Evangelium vitae, par 99). In my opinion , it is hard to overestimate the contribution Pope John Paul II made to meeting this contemporary challenge.

Moscow Patriarch said women are the stronger sex

OK, I laughed (to myself so as not to disturb the priests with whom I live) that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said in May to a youth conference that he thinks women are the stronger sex and psychologically more sturdy than men. My mother and sister would agree; and if my grandmothers and Aunt Jeanne were alive, they’d agree with His All Holiness. I am happy that he said this because he confirmed something I always knew or was drilled into my noggin –and heard proclaimed by women’s organizations since I’ve been in seminary formation. While this is neither new news nor as the critical as the oxygen being sucked out of the news industry in the past 8 days (with Michael Jackson’s death) but now it’s “infallible” and we all know the truth. Really, I am not poking fun at the Russian Patriarch…I think it’s humorous that such a point was newsworthy of Interfax, a news agency. In part, Patriarch Kirill said:

We can do it.jpg

“Men happen to be frailer. The upheavals of 1990s
caused many of them to break down, but women had more vigor to endure the stress.”

Answering questions, it was said that sport
achievements required courage: “women win our country most
of Russia’s gold medals in sport.”

The Patriarch’s words received a
riveting ovation. “An individual comprises both spirit and body, and human
strength depends not only on its physical component. In this regard, women are
the stronger sex,” Patriarch Kirill said.

That he travels around Russia Patriarch Kirill noticed that “Almost every village has some kind of an
amateur talent group. Who sings in a choir? Women do, and sometimes they are
accompanied by a drunken accordionist.” The same is true for many village schools, libraries, post offices, local
administration where women have to play the lead, concluded Kirill.

Pope writes to conference on Women

In a letter of greeting to Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino the Pope on the occasion of the “Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights,” conference which took place week in the Vatican he wrote of that Christianity is life giving, and not full of despair in front of reality and that following John Paul insight, there is a new feminism informed by the Gospel that has the power to change people.

I am pleased to extend cordial greetings to you and to all those taking part in the International Conference on the theme “Life, Family and Development: the Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights.” This event, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, with the cooperation of the World Women’s Alliance for Life and Family, the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations and other associations, is an exemplary response to my predecessor Pope John Paul II’s call for a “new feminism” with the power to transform culture, imbuing it with a decisive respect for life (cf. Evangelium Vitae, 98-99).

Every day we learn of further ways in which life is compromised, particularly in its most vulnerable stages. While justice demands that these be decried as a violation of human rights, they must also evoke a positive and proactive response. The recognition and appreciation of God’s plan for women in the transmission of life and the nurturing of children is a constructive step in this direction. Beyond this, and given the distinctive influence of women in society, they must be encouraged to embrace the opportunity to uphold the dignity of life through their involvement in education and their participation in political and civic life. Indeed, because they have been gifted by the Creator with a unique “capacity for the other,” women have a crucial part to play in the promotion of human rights, for without their voice the social fabric of society would be weakened (cf. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 13). As you reflect on the role of women in the promotion of human rights, I invite you to keep in mind a task to which I have drawn attention on several occasions: namely, to correct any misconception that Christianity is simply a collection of commandments and prohibitions. The Gospel is a message of joy which encourages men and women to delight in spousal love; far from stifling it, Christian faith and ethics make it healthy, strong and truly free. This is the exact meaning of the Ten Commandments: they are not a series of “noes” but a great “yes” to love and to life (cf. Address to the Participants at the Ecclesial Convention of the Diocese of Rome, 5 June 2006).

It is my sincere hope that your discussions over these next two days will translate into concrete initiatives that safeguard the indispensable role of the family in the integral development of the human person and of society as a whole. The genius of women to mobilize and organize endows them with the skills and motivation to develop ever-expanding networks for sharing experiences and generating new ideas. The accomplishments of WWALF and the UMOFC/WUCWO are an outstanding example of this, and I encourage their members to persevere in their generous service to society. May the sphere of your influence continue to grow at regional, national and international levels for the advancement of human rights based on the strong foundation of marriage and family.

I once more extend best wishes for the success of this conference and my prayers for the continuing mission of the participating organizations. Invoking the intercession of Mary, “the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 570), I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



PS: a video clip on the Pope’s remarks the other on women

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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