Addressing the more than 40,000 faithful gathered outside the cathedral for a Mass honoring Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of the archdiocese, Archbishop Luis Villalba of Tucuman in Argentina said the Church defends the dignity of women and denounces attacks against them.
Speaking in his homily, the archbishop explained that the Virgin Mary “is the archetype of authentic feminine promotion” as well as “the new beginning of the dignity and vocation … of each and every woman.”
He went on to say that “woman, as man, is made in the image of God,” but that “equality of dignity does not mean being identical to man. This would only impoverish woman and all of society by losing the unique richness and values that are proper to femininity.”
“The Church works for the strengthening of the dignity and appreciation of women,” and strives to bring women out of the “situations of marginalization in which they may find themselves, educating them for their mission on the ecclesial community and in the world. The Church works to promote ways to ensure a decent life for women, especially those in difficult situations: women who are separated, single mothers, women in prostitution,” he said.
Noting that the Church denounces the violations against the justice and dignity of women, Archbishop Villalba underscored their essential role “as mothers, defenders of life and educators of the home,” saying women must be “appreciated in all areas of life.”
In particular he referred to the “vocation to maternity,” which “springs from the unique relationship of the woman to human life.” “The maternal mission is also the foundation of a particular responsibility. Mothers are tasked with being protectors of life,” he added.
“God is the Lord of life. Life is a gift. Man is not the owner of life. The unborn child is the poorest and most vulnerable and defenseless creature that must be defended and protected. The Church feels called to be on the side of life and to defend it in women,” the archbishop asserted.
He went on to denounce the mentality prevalent today that downplays the nature and mission of woman, denying her specific feminine dimension and converting her into an object of pleasure. “Unfortunately,” he said, “sometimes the fight for the emancipation of women descends to violence and to disconcerting demands, such as to the ‘right to abortion, free love and homosexuality.’”
The emancipation and promotion of women should be achieved in conformity with those responsibilities that spring forth from her vocation to maternity, and above all, must never be achieved by attacking a developing human life,” the archbishop said.
“Marriage, maternity and the family are fundamental values. There cannot be real progress at the expense of these values,” he said.