Pope Francis addresses women from the Italian Women’s Centre and stresses the importance of their voice, in changing the way the world is governed: from a logic of need for power, to one of care and service. In his discourse he turns his thoughts to Ukraine, calling for disarmament and the pursuit of world peace.
Addressing members of the Italian Women’s Centre, in Rome for their elective Congress, Pope Francis commented on the “wide-ranging” theme chosen for the occasion: “The creative identity of man and woman in a shared mission”. The Pope described it as being “a very topical issue”, in the theoretical sense and especially in the existential sense.
The centre and its context
The Italian Women’s Centre – from the Italian Centro Italiano Femminile (CIF) – was founded in 1944, “in a context of defending the dignity and rights of women”. The Pope noted that in that period following the Second World War, the CIF was born “as a choice of responsibility, of commitment to ‘safeguarding the human'”.
Pope Francis went on to note that the first national president of CIF, Maria Federici Agamben, together with other women’s representatives and across party lines, “participated in the drafting of some articles of the Constitution and influenced the constitutional ‘philosophy’ on the issues of solidarity, subsidiarity, and the secularity of the state”.
The CIF, then as now, expresses this vision of politics as a service to the common good animated by charity. In light of this, Pope Francis went on to say that for those belonging to his generation “it is unbearable to see what has happened and is happening in Ukraine”. Unfortunately, he explained, that “this is the fruit of the old logic of power that still dominates so-called geopolitics” and that the problem remains the same: that “the world continues to be governed as a ‘chessboard’, where the powerful study the moves to extend their dominance to the detriment of others”.
The real answer, continued the Pope, is “not more weapons, more sanctions, more political-military alliances”, but rather a different approach, “a different way of governing the world, which is now globalised, and of establishing international relations.”
Service and care
Pope Francis then explained why he chose to make this reflection to the women present.
“You are an association of women, and women are the protagonists of this change of course, of this conversion. As long as they are not homologated by the prevailing system of power, women, by acquiring power in society, can change the system, if they manage, so to speak, to convert power from the logic of domination to that of service, of care”.
This necessary change in mentality is “the school of Jesus Christ, it is the school of Gandhi, it is the school of the saints of every age, but it is also – I would say above all – the school of countless women who have cultivated and cherished life; of women who have cared for the fragile, the wounded, the human and social wounds; of women who have dedicated mind and heart to the education of the new generations”, stressed the Pope.
Bringing his discourse to an end, Pope Francis encouraged the women present to “go forward”, and prayed, that the Virgin Mary, “always accompany you”.
With thanks to Vatican News and Francesca Merlo, where this article originally appeared.