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Holy See highlights connection between feminine genius and solidarity

Indian women offer prayers on Ash Wednesday at Saint Marys Basilica in Hyderabad, India. - AP

Indian women offer prayers on Ash Wednesday at Saint Marys Basilica in Hyderabad, India. - AP

20/03/2015 07:41

(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, focused on the “connection between the feminine genius and solidarity in caring for the vulnerable and in creating a better world” during a conference on “Women Promoting Human Dignity” held in the chambers of the United Nations on Wednesday.

“The fundamental aim of governments is justice, and a just social order is one in which  each person has his or her rights guaranteed and respected,” said Archbishop Auza. “But even in the most just  society,  some members of our human family fall into cracks,  or have disabilities  and  other  risk  factors that even well-ordered and just societies may overlook or  pay less  attention to.”

The Archbishop said these people need or solidarity, and said people need more than “polite and efficient bureaucrats”  fulfilling  their duties.

“They need loving personal concern,” he said. “They need remedies that reach the  soul rather than just the  sickness, physical hunger,  financial  difficulties  or material  needs. In short, they need people who care, who treat them with the love that accords  with the fullness of their human dignity.”

 

The full text of Archbishop Auza’s intervention is below

 

Remarks of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza

Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

At the Conference on “Women Promoting Human Dignity”

Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations

New York, March 18, 2015

 

Excellencies, Distinguished Panelists,

Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you this afternoon to this event  that will  shine a spotlight  on  women  promoting  human  dignity  and  extol  the  often-unheralded  efforts  and  achievements of the multitudes of women who do.

Whenever  we speak about human dignity,  we  are  referring  to the intrinsic worth of  every person, no matter how young or old, rich or poor, strong or vulnerable,  healthy  or  sick,  wanted  or  undesired,  economically  productive  or  incapacitated,  worldly  influential or  insignificant.  Every human person  has such an intrinsic worth  that  our only fitting response is love.  All of us are called to give that loving response — and over the course of the centuries  so many men and women have distinguished themselves in doing so. But most people  recognize that women excel in this  field beyond their male counterparts.  I believe that  most of us would agree that women spot faster  than men do the needs and situations  of others and respond to them more rapidly. I hope that no male present here would  challenge me on this!

St. John Paul II referred to this special brilliance  of women in caring for the intrinsic  dignity of everyone and for nurturing others’ gifts as the “feminine genius.”  Today we  are here to ponder that feminine genius, to celebrate it, to thank God for it,  and to  thank and praise women for it, especially our mothers and all those women who  with it have nurtured us, raised us, educated us, loved us and… disciplined us! Moreover, we are here to learn from it and resolve to do what we can to see this genius  expand  and assume  a greater influence, for the good of  individuals and  society  today  and for the betterment of persons and nations tomorrow. I am convinced  that a deeper  recognition and a greater appreciation of this genius is key to fighting violence against  women.

I  would like to  focus  specifically  on  the connection between the feminine genius and  solidarity in caring for the vulnerable and in creating a better world. The fundamental aim of governments is justice, and a just social order is one in which  each person has his or her rights guaranteed and respected. But even in the most just  society,  some members of our human family fall into cracks,  or have disabilities  and  other  risk  factors that even well-ordered and just societies may overlook or  pay less  attention to.  More than and beyond justice, they need our solidarity. Moreover, in response to various forms of human suffering and to  material, emotional,  spiritual necessities, people need more than polite and efficient bureaucrats  fulfilling  their duties. They need loving personal concern.  They need remedies that reach the  soul rather than just the  sickness, physical hunger,  financial  difficulties  or material  needs. In short, they need people who care, who treat them with the love that accords  with the fullness of their human dignity.

Pope  Benedict  XVI  wrote  in  his  Encyclical  on  charity  (Deus  Caritas  Est)  in  2006,  “While professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of  itself sufficient. We are dealing with human beings, and human beings always need  something  more  than  technically  proper  care.  They  need  humanity.  They  need  heartfelt concern.”  For  that  reason,  all  of  us,  but  especially  those  who  work  in  institutions  with  direct  contact with  people, need, he said,  a “formation of the heart.”  We need a “heart that  sees”: a  heart that sees specifically where love  is needed and acts accordingly; a  heart  that  recognizes  the  person  so  that  we  never  treat  just  the  problems  of  a  client,  or  patient, or constituent, but rather a person with dignity.

In this formation or education of the heart, women are the world’s professors. “A heart  that sees” is another way of defining the “feminine genius” .  For those who accept the inspiration of the Hebrew Bible, God  himself  expresses his  love  in feminine terms.  Through Isaiah, God says,  “Can a mother forget her infant or be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget”  —  something  that in the text God implies would be impossible —  “I will never forget you” (Is 49:14-15). Later, God adds through the same Prophet, “As a mother comforts her child, so  will I comfort you” (Is 66:13).  For  those  who  accept  Christian  revelation,  we  see  the  flourishing  of  the  feminine  genius in the woman whom God the Father chose to be the mother of his Son. We see it in Mary’s going with haste to care for her pregnant elderly relative Elizabeth. We see it in her  care for the young married couple who had run out of wine  at the wedding  feast  in Cana. We see  it in  her  courage  at the foot of the  Cross.  We see it in her guidance  of the apostles and members of the early Church as they awaited God’s help to take the  Gospel  to  all  nations.  For  us  who  venerate  her  as  our  Mother,  her  whole  life  is  a beautiful hymn to  the  hearts that  see  and a constant invitation  to love  and  care for  others.

While  history  books  sing  the  victories  of  valiant  emperors  and  warriors  –  and  the  defeat  and the follies  of  some, as well!  -  all of civilization and certainly the Church owes an unpayable debt of  gratitude to  the  less chronicled or even unknown contributions  of women that have shaped civilizations, like the silent but constant flow of deep waters  that shape rivers. Our textbooks normally  obsess about the names at the top of political hierarchies  and  are  preoccupied  fundamentally  with  economic  and  military  trends.  But  genuine  human  progress  happens  more  fundamentally  in  the  relations  human  beings have with  one another  and  the way human beings care for  one another.  Such  progress  often  doesn’t  make  journalists’  radar  screens,  but  it  is  perhaps  more  consequential  to  human  flourishing  than  scientific  and  technological  inventions.  Indeed, we have become super technological and super informed, but have we become better persons?

Louise de Marillac,  Francis Xavier Cabrini,  Elizabeth Anne Seton, Dorothy Day  and  Mother Teresa of Calcutta  are only a small sample of those women across the centuries  who have played starring roles in this drama of loving and caring for humanity.  And  I can hear you asking  me: add my  mother and my grandma  to that list, please! Yes,  I  will:  mothers  give  everything  they  have  out  of  love  for  their  children.  And  Sister  Norma  would  ask:  how  about  us,  women  religious?  Yes,  we  remember  all  women  religious with profound gratitude, especially in this Year of Consecrated Life. In more  ways than one, they are the face of the Church, and Sister Norma represents all of them  here this afternoon.

I’m very happy to host this  event featuring several women  who are such  examples  of  the feminine genius I have been talking about. They not only have hearts that see, but  hearts and minds that respond with creativity and compassion to what they see.  I’m so grateful that  Dr. Carolyn Woo, the President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services,  has been able to  join us.  Catholic Relief Services  provides assistance to  over  130 million  people in  more than a hundred  countries.  I look forward to hearing Dr. Woo’s stories  of development and humanitarian assistance from her experience on the front lines.  I’m  so  happy  to  introduce  to  you  two  friends  whose  feminine  genius  impacted  me  during my  more than  six years as Apostolic Nuncio to their country  of Haiti, and whose  witness I hope will have a similar effect on you.

Her  Excellency  Professor  Michèle  Pierre-Louis  is  a  former  Haitian  Prime  Minister,  former Resident Fellow of Harvard’s Institute of Politics,  and  is  Founder and  President  of  the  Knowledge  and  Freedom  Foundation,  popularly  known  as  FOKAL.  In  Haiti,  FOKAL  provides  educational,  human  development  and  economic  activities  in  local  communities.  Her Excellency will  be speaking to us about the women  in  governance  and civic leadership, something that is needed all the more in societies that have weak  institutional capacities.  Mrs.  Magalie  Dresse  is  the  owner  of  Caribbean  Craft  Haiti  whose  entrepreneurial  creativity, care for her employees and business success have not only won her multiple  awards,  but  justifiably  garnered  the  attention  of  many  world  leaders,  popular  television  hosts,  top  newspapers  and  many  others  who  have  been  helping  Haiti  rebuild. She  will be speaking to us today about her experience  managing a handicraft  industry that gives work to hundreds of poor but highly talented women artisans, and  on how women in difficult socio-economic conditions can help one  another in the fight  to lift themselves out of extreme poverty and ignorance.

I  am  likewise  honored  to  welcome  Sister  Norma  Pimentel,  a  member  of  the  Missionaries  of  Jesus,  Executive  Director  of  Catholic  Catholics  of  the  Rio  Grande  Valley,  and  a  leader  in  defending  human  dignity  and  providing  humanitarian  assistance to tens of thousands  of  migrants  at the border between the United States  and Mexico.  She will be speaking to us about her work  with undocumented migrants  crossing  the  border, and  particularly  about  the  scourge  of  the  trafficking  of  human  persons, above all women and children.  Then, we have bonuses for you: in between our four Speakers, we will hear from three young  women  who  have  come  to  the  United  Nations  to  help  us  understand  the  feminine genius.

Finally, at the end of the conference of the last principal Speaker, we will  watch a short  video  entitled  “Women  of  the  World,”  which  demonstrates  various  aspects  of  the  feminine genius. Earlier this month, on the International Day of Women, Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s  Square  that  women  “give  us  the  ability  to  see  beyond…  to  understand  the  world  through different eyes, to hear things with more creative, more patient, more tender  hearts.”  Today, our Speakers will help us develop hearts that see: creative, patient and tender.

I thank all of you for coming.  

20/03/2015 07:41