Macho Mentality Persists, Says Pope

Notes Attitude Ignores the Novelty of Christianity

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A discriminatory macho mentality continues to persist in cultures that ignore the novelty of Christianity to recognize the equal dignity of men and women, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving in audience participants from the international conference titled "Woman and Man, the 'Humanum' in Its Entirety," which marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter "Mulieris Dignitatem."

The conference, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, ended Saturday.

"From the second half of the 20th century until today," said the Pope, "the movement for women's rights in the various settings of social life has generated countless reflections and debates, and it has seen the multiplication of many initiatives that the Catholic Church has followed and often accompanied with attentive interest."

In the apostolic letter "Mulieris Dignitatem," the Pontiff said John Paul II saw the need to "delve into the fundamental anthropological truths of men and women, the equality in dignity and their unity, the rooted and profound difference between the masculine and the feminine, and their vocation to reciprocity and complementarity, collaboration and communion."

The Holy Father continued: "In the face of cultural and political currents that attempt to eliminate, or at least to obfuscate and confuse, the sexual differences written into human nature, considering them to be cultural constructions, it is necessary to recall the design of God that created the human being male and female, with a unity and at the same time an original and complementary difference.

"Human nature and the cultural dimension are integrated in an ample and complex process that constitutes the formation of the identity of each, where both dimensions -- the feminine and the masculine -- correspond to and complete each other."

Mom and dad

Benedict XVI, however, insisted that discrimination continues: "There still persists a macho mentality that ignores the novelty of Christianity, which recognizes and proclaims the equal dignity and responsibility of women with respect to men. There are certain places and cultures where women are discriminated against and undervalued just for the fact that they are women.

"In the face of such grave and persistent phenomena the commitment of Christians appears all the more urgent, so that they become everywhere the promoters of a culture that recognizes the dignity that belongs to women in law and in reality."

"God entrusts to women and to men," said the Pope, "according to the characteristics that are proper to each, a specific vocation in the mission of the Church and in the world. I think here of the family, community of love, open to life, fundamental cell of society.

"In it, woman and man, thanks to the gift of maternity and paternity, together play an irreplaceable role in regard to life."

The Pontiff affirmed the right of children to have a father and a mother, and the state's role to "sustain with adequate social policies all that which promotes the stability of matrimony, the dignity and the responsibility of the husband and wife, their rights and irreplaceable duty to educate their children."