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Mulieris Dignitatem

August 15, 2008, is the twentieth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity of Women). Anyone who has ever claimed the Church does not hold women in high regard has never read this letter. Here is the opening paragraph:

THE DIGNITY AND THE VOCATION OF WOMEN - a subject of constant human and Christian reflection - have gained exceptional prominence in recent years. This can be seen, for example, in the statements of the Church's Magisterium present in various documents of the Second Vatican Council, which declares in its Closing Message: "The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at his moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling".

Pope John Paul II closes with these words:

The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine "genius" which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.

The Church asks at the same time that these invaluable "manifestations of the Spirit" (cf. 1 Cor 12:4ff.), which with great generosity are poured forth upon the "daughters" of the eternal Jerusalem, may be attentively recognized and appreciated so that they may return for the common good of the Church and of humanity, especially in our times. Meditating on the biblical mystery of the "woman", the Church prays that in this mystery all women may discover themselves and their "supreme vocation".

May Mary, who "is a model of the Church in the matter of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ",63 obtain for all of us this same "grace", in the Year which we have dedicated to her as we approach the third millennium from the coming of Christ.

With these sentiments, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to all the faithful, and in a special way to women, my sisters in Christ.

Wow! Those are powerful words. We women are not on the periphery of the Church. We are front and center with an awesome responsibility. In honor of the twentieth anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem, The Pontifical Council for the Laity is encouraging women to reflect on this papal document in light of the theme: The Dignity of Woman in a Technological and Consumeristic Society. You may have noticed the new banner at the top of my blog. This is a link to a web site that has been set up to offer resources for the study of Mulieris Dignitatem. There is a study guide offered on the web site but I am also going to be on the lookout for some alternatives. If anyone has any suggestions, please leave them in the comment box. I am hoping to find a way to offer a discussion of this in my parish. At Sarah’s suggestion, I will host an online discussion as well. Let’s find the right study guide and get going!


Ebeth said…

I told Sarah that I was in on this as well. The women in my parish are agreeing to do a discussion group on the letter and I need to be ready. I am reading it now, and have read Genevieve's book, too.

Any suggestions!!

Cville40Days said…
Have you checked out the ENDOW program on this? I know they have a study guide/class for this encyclical that's supposed to be . I wanted to start a group in my church but then we started 40 Days for Life maybe in the spring.

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