In his remarks to representatives of Catholic movements working for the promotion of women in Africa, Pope Benedict emphasized the importance of “feminine complementarity” in a technology-driven world and the absolute necessity of the mother’s unique role in the family.
During the Sunday afternoon meeting in the parish of Santo Antonio, located in a densely populated area on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola, the Pope spoke of the necessity of recognizing, affirming and defending “the equal dignity of man and woman." He explained how both are called to live in communion "through a reciprocal recognition of one another and the mutual gift of themselves, working together for the common good through the complementary aspects of masculinity and femininity.”
"Who today, can fail to recognize the need to make more room for the reasons of the heart?” he asked. In a world dominated by technology, this “feminine complementarity” is needed “so that the human race can live in the world without completely losing its humanity,” the Pope counseled.
“Think of all the places afflicted by great poverty or devastated by war, and of all the tragic situations resulting from migrations, forced or otherwise,” he continued. “It is almost always women who manage to preserve human dignity, to defend the family and to protect cultural and religious values."
And yet, the Pope lamented, “history records almost exclusively the accomplishments of men, when in fact much of it is due to the determined, unrelenting and charitable action of women."
The Holy Father argued for women’s “full right to become actively involved in all areas of public life,” but cautioned that their positions should not “detract from their unique role within the family.”
“Here their contribution to the welfare and progress of society, even if its importance is not sufficiently appreciated, is truly incalculable," he said.
He also noted that the “presence of a mother within the family is so important for the stability and growth of this fundamental cell of society, that it should be recognized, commended and supported in every possible way.”
“For the same reason, society must hold husbands and fathers accountable for their responsibilities towards their families."
Benedict XVI brought his remarks to a close by recalling how "the building up of every Christian family takes place within the larger family, the Church,” who works to hold the family “close to her heart, giving it the assurance that it is protected, now and in the future, by the 'yes' of the Creator."