Pope Francis earlier today met with participants at a national conference sponsored by the Italian Women’s Centre, which is due to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its foundation in October of this year.
The Italian Women’s Centre (Centro Italiano Femminile, or CIF) was set
up in 1944 as a federation of Catholic women’s associations. It was
established in response to the need for guidance on civic and social
issues which arose at the end of the Second World War, when Italy
introduced universal suffrage and millions of women were called to vote
for the first time ever.
Pope Francis opened his address by
giving thanks for the organisation’s work over the past 70 years and for
its value as witness to the changing role of women within Catholic
communities and Italian society as a whole.
In recent decades, the Pope
said, within the context of other cultural and societal developments,
the role of women has been greatly transformed, their participation and
responsibilities have increased. It is with great joy, he added, that I
see many women sharing pastoral responsibilities with priests, both in
theological reflection and by supporting individuals, families and
communities, and I hope the space for women to contribute incisively to
the life of our Church may continue to increase.
contribution of women to the public or professional sphere is important,
Pope Francis went on, their contribution to family life is even more
But at this point, he said, the question arises naturally – how
is it possible for any woman to develop an incisive presence in the many
areas of public and professional life where important decisions are
made, and at the same time to maintain a special presence within the
family? This, the Pope said, is the field of discernment, which requires
assiduousness and perseverance in prayer, as well as reflection on the
reality of women within society.
It is in dialogue with God,
Pope Francis concluded, that Christian women must answer his call – a
dialogue which is always supported by Mary. May she – who cherished her
divine son, who propitiated his first miracle at the wedding in Cana,
who was present on Calvary and at Pentecost – show you the path to
understanding the role of women within society.