Vatican City, Feb 12, 2008 / 09:48 am America/Denver (CNA).
On Saturday morning Pope Benedict XVI received participants in an international congress on the theme: “Woman and man, the ‘humanum’ in its entirety.” During his reflections, the Holy Father called on Christians to promote “a culture that grants women, in law and in everyday life, the dignity that is theirs by right.”
The congress, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, takes place in the twentieth anniversary year of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter on the dignity and vocation of women, “Mulieris Dignitatem.”
Speaking to the participants, Pope Benedict said that the relationship between men and women is a question central to contemporary culture. The Pope noted the various documents the Church has dedicated to the topic, including “Mulieris Dignitatem,” Pope John Paul II’s 1995 “Letter to Women” and a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document titled “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World.”
Man and woman’s equal dignity, their unity, and their reciprocal and complementary vocations, the Pope said, rest on their being created in the image and likeness of God, “Who 'created them male and female' avoiding indistinct uniformity and flat and impoverished equality, as well as massive and confrontational difference.”
Pope Benedict said that when men and women seek complete self-sufficiency and autonomy, they confuse freedom with the overcoming of all natural, social and religious barriers. This confusion “reduces them to a state of oppressive solitude," the Pope said.