Preacher Decries Violence Against Women

Says Christ Is Ally in Fighting This Crime

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The preacher of the Pontifical Household is denouncing violence against women, especially in the domestic realm, and is pointing out that Christ is the first to fight this crime.



Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa stated this today in his homily at the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord, presided over by Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Basilica.

Speaking about the brutal death of Jesus, and the violence that has always been present to a certain extent in human history, the priest pointed to a "grave and widespread" manifestation of this savagery.

"I am not speaking here of violence against children," he said, though he acknowledged that some clergy are "stained" by this crime. On this topic, "there is sufficient talk outside of here," he said.

Rather, the preacher highlighted the crime of violence against women.

"This is an occasion to make persons and institutions that fight against it understand that Christ is their best ally," he said.

Father Cantalamessa asserted that "it is a violence all the more grave in as much as it is often carried out in the shelter of domestic walls, unknown to all, when it is not actually justified with pseudo-religious and cultural prejudices."

"The victims find themselves desperately alone and defenseless," he said. "Only today, thanks to the support and encouragement of so many associations and institutions, some find the strength to come out in the open and denounce the guilty."

Sexual link

The priest noted that "much of this violence has a sexual background."

"It is the male who thinks he can demonstrate his virility by inflicting himself on the woman, without realizing that he is only demonstrating his insecurity and baseness," he explained.

The preacher said that this violence sometimes comes out "in confrontations with the woman who has made a mistake," but that this behavior is starkly contrasted with "the conduct of Christ."

He stated, "Fanaticism calls for stoning; Christ responds to the men who have presented an adulteress to him saying: 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her' (John 8:7)."

"Adultery is a sin that is always committed by two, but for which only one has always been (and, in some parts of the world, still is) punished," Father Cantalamessa lamented.

"Violence against woman is never so odious as when it nestles where mutual respect and love should reign, in the relationship between husband and wife," he stated.

The priest continued: "It is true that violence is not always and wholly on the part of one, that one can be violent also with the tongue and not only with the hands, but no one can deny that in the vast majority of cases the victim is the woman.

"There are families where the man still believes himself authorized to raise his voice and hands at the women of the house.

"Wife and children at times live under the constant threat of 'Daddy's anger.'"

Bitter forecast

He observed, "To such as these it is necessary to say courteously: Dear Men Colleagues, by creating you male, God did not intend to give you the right to be angry and to bang your fist on the table for the least thing."

The preacher clarified that God's words to Eve after the fall: "'He (the man) shall rule over you' (Genesis 3:16), was a bitter forecast, not an authorization."
 
He recalled, "John Paul II inaugurated the practice of the request for forgiveness for collective wrongs."

Father Cantalamessa urged his listeners: "One of these, among the most just and necessary, is the forgiveness that half of humanity must ask of the other half, men to women.

"It must not be generic or abstract.

"It must lead, especially in one who professes himself a Christian, to concrete gestures of conversion, to words of apology and reconciliation within families and in society."

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-28840?l=english