The difference, and their complementarity, between man and woman was Pope Francis’s most recent topic in his catechesis on the family, taking place in his weekly Wednesday Audience on April 15, 2015.
He began by commenting on the Creation account in Genesis, in which human beings are God’s “masterpiece,” made in His own image. It is essential that this masterpiece was created as “male and female” (Gn 1:27). The pope stated that man alone cannot fully form the image of God, and neither can woman alone. But rather, it is man and woman together, as a couple, who form the image of God.
This difference between man and woman “is not meant to stand in opposition, or to subordinate,” Pope Francis said. Instead, it exists “for the sake of communion and generation, always in the image and likeness of God.” Human beings require the reciprocity of man and woman if they are to truly be self-aware and develop harmoniously. Without this mutual relationship, “the two cannot even understand the depth of what it means to be man and woman.”
Modern contemporary culture has introduced “doubts and skepticism” about the difference and complementarity of man and women. The “so-called gender theory,” Pope Francis remarked,
“seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.” This is a step backwards, according to the pope. The removal and denial of sexual difference is not a solution to the problems present within male-female relationships; on the contrary, it creates a further problem. If men and women want to resolve problems that arise due to the differences between them, they need to speak to, listen to, love and know one another more instead of trying to eliminate their differences.
The Holy Father spoke on two points related to this topic that he believes call for urgent attention. If more commitment is going to be made to the complementarity of men and women, there is therefore a need to advance women. Women’s voices need to not only be listened to, but need to “carry real weight” and be recognized as an authority both in society and in the Church. The “feminine genius” of woman and what it offers society is far from being understood in its full depth. Understanding this genius will provide a “path to follow with greater creativity and courage.”
The second point Pope Francis spoke on is the “crisis of the alliance” between men and women in marriage. As said earlier, the communion of God is reflected in the communion of man and woman as a couple. When man and woman lose trust in God, as Adam and Eve did, this distrust “generates division and conflict” between man and woman themselves. The result, he notes is “resignation, incredulity and cynicism.”
The pope calls us to “rediscover the beauty of the creative design that also inscribes the image of God in the alliance between man and woman.”
Pope Francis also noted that his next two General Audiences will be on topics concerning marriage, so check back soon for more Pope Francis Corners!