A Spousal Hour

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

It is an honor and a joy for me to address you today, as we gather to celebrate the theological intuitions of Pope John Paul II on the "mystery of woman"--virgin, bride, and mother--twenty years after the publication of the apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem. (1) These intuitions prophetically respond to the anthropological challenges we are now confronting in every society, at every level, down to the individual woman in the remotest African village. We are here to make that nexus--to identify how Divine Revelation and the teaching of the Magisterium respond to the concrete cultural challenges of our times, so as to better serve humanity.

Mulieris Dignitatem came out a few years before the Cairo and Beijing conferences of the United Nations, which integrated the well-known themes of the Western sexual and feminist revolution--such as "possession of one's body," "control over one's destiny," "free love," the "wanted child," the "right to choose," and a flawed conception of freedom, equality, and power--into new concepts such as "sexual and reproductive health and rights" and "gender equality." (2) These new themes became global political objectives, priorities of international cooperation and global norms.

For some fifteen years now, we have been in the implementation phase of Cairo and Beijing and have globalized the Western cultural revolution. The global agents of change have scored a decisive number of critical victories in the developing world, where regional organizations, governments, local authorities, non-governmental organizations ("NGOs'), schools, and health-care centers have integrated the new global norms. In these countries the cultures, mentalities, and behaviors are changing fast. Whereas the cultural revolution already achieved most of its objectives in the West, the front of the battle has now moved to the developing world.

So we are in a combat--a combat of global scope. Perhaps we could even speak of an apocalyptic combat. The current teaching of the Magisterium brings us back to the origin. God's eternal design, the "revealed truth concerning man as 'the image and likeness' of God," which "constitutes the immutable basis of all Christian anthropology," (3) is both Pope John Paul II's and our starting point.

In contradistinction, world governance today globally imposes a new ethic constructed by social engineers, constructed in fact so as to fill the void left by their deconstruction of our God-given Trinitarian anthropological structure. (4) The rejection of God's design, of Revelation, is the starting and ending point of this global agenda.

In the West, the sexual revolution, followed in the Catholic Church by widespread unfaithfulness to the Magisterium, has accelerated the secularization process and led to a general loss of faith. The globalization of the Western cultural revolution threatens to have the same consequences in the non-Western world. The new global ethic puts women on top of its agenda. Gender equality--often a Trojan horse hiding reproductive health, which in turn hides, inter alia, what the new jargon calls "safe" abortion--is the transversal priority of international cooperation and the Millennium Development Goals. (5)

At the heart of this global combat is the woman. "[I]t is precisely in the 'woman'--Eve-Mary," John Paul II tells us, "that history witnesses a dramatic struggle for every human being, the struggle for his or her fundamental 'yes' or 'no' to God and God's eternal plan for humanity." (6) In this combat, our goal is to serve, not to win. The evil one is the prince of this world, but Jesus already won the final victory: "O death, where is thy victory? ... But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (7) We are not fighting a semantic battle. Ours is not a political, diplomatic, or juridical combat. It is, first and foremost, a spiritual one. God does not ask us to succeed, but to be faithful and to persevere until the end. …