The True Importance of Women

By Kathryn Jean Lopez Published on June 19, 2016

Most of us can look around and appreciate much of what has been given to us. Maybe it’s family, talent, a job or a roof over our heads and food on the table.

I say most of us, but many, too, struggle with life and with gratitude. The world can seem broken beyond any hope of repair, and us marred along with it. People drown in these kinds of feelings.

And yet, the world needs people who can see a way toward light. I think often of a message Pope Benedict XVI handed me just a few months before stepping aside. Addressed to all the women of the world, it concluded: “Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.”

The peace of the world! And, man, could we use some peace.

Last week, I spent a few days on the campus of my alma mater, the Catholic University of America, for a leadership conference for 300 young Catholic women from every state in the union. Called GIVEN, it was “a response to Pope Francis’ plea for a deeper understanding and activation of the unique gift of women in the Church and the world.”

One woman from Alabama told me: “This forum could not have come at a better time. … (W)omen are under attack. Women are being lied to. They are being told that their feminine gifts are a hindrance and that they should be suppressed. In our world, fertility, receptivity, empathy, and gentleness are seen as weaknesses … I now truly understand feminine genius and I refuse to accept the counterfeit.”

Another from New Mexico told me: “Women don’t have it very easy in our modern culture. We get caught up in this pressure to control our lives; we are constantly being told we must be strong, independent and, in many ways, selfish. This conference contradicts … this pressure of society. It focuses on the gift that woman IS, not what she does. … It encourages us … to be unashamed of who we are (and) to be fearless and bold with our tender hearts. In a world that is so deprived of love, when tragedies seem to be happening on a daily basis, the world needs the fierce compassion and empathy that comes so naturally to women.”

And yet another quoted John Paul II to me: “Without the contribution of women, society is less alive, culture impoverished, and peace less stable. Situations where women are prevented from developing their full potential and from offering the wealth of their gifts should therefore be considered profoundly unjust, not only to women themselves but to society as a whole.”

She added: “Our culture is plagued by immense suffering and in need of love, the healing love which women are uniquely able to give. Our culture needs women to return it back to a priority of love. … At a time in our culture when femininity is outright denied and rejected, women need to be affirmed in the truth of their very being, the goodness of their femininity β€” for their own flourishing and that of those around them.”

A celebration of the natural differences between men and women allows for a reality check that may just make things better. We need motherly hearts to tend to wounds, whether they’re from terror in Orlando or just the everyday fears and struggles that drive people to isolation, depression, anger, alienation, and violence.

A woman from New York described the GIVEN week as “whirlwind of love and grace.” Just a breeze could do a world of good in all 50 states.


Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at [email protected].

COPYRIGHT 2016 United Feature Syndicate

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