Blessed Pope John Paul II on Creation and Womanhood

Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1995 wrote a Letter to Women in which he spoke of the dignity of women. Here is a beautiful quote from this letter.

Bl. Pope John Paul II: Dear sisters, together let us reflect anew on the magnificent passage in Scripture which describes the creation of the human race and which has so much to say about your dignity and mission in the world.

The Book of Genesis speaks of creation in summary fashion, in language which is poetic and symbolic, yet profoundly true: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). The creative act of God takes place according to a precise plan. First of all, we are told that the human being is created “in the image and likeness of God” (cf. Gen 1:26). This expression immediately makes clear what is distinct about the human being with regard to the rest of creation.

We are then told that, from the very beginning, man has been created “male and female” (Gen 1:27). Scripture itself provides the interpretation of this fact: even though man is surrounded by the innumerable creatures of the created world, he realizes that he is alone (cf. Gen 2:20). God intervenes in order to help him escape from this situation of solitude: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). The creation of woman is thus marked from the outset bythe principle of help: a help which is not one-sided but mutual. Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the “human” as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way.

When the Book of Genesis speaks of “help”, it is not referring merely to acting, but also to being. Womanhood and manhood are complementary not only from the physical and psychological points of view, but also from the ontological. It is only through the duality of the “masculine” and the “feminine” that the “human” finds full realization.

I love that sentence, “The creation of woman is thus marked from the outset by the principle of help: a help which is not one-sided but mutual.” The common experience of men and women that they are somehow different from, yet fulfilling the other gives credence to John Paul II’s use of the term “ontological” in discussing the complementarity of womanhood and manhood.

My friends, it is from this ontological complementarity that marriage flowers. It is this ontological complementarity that makes possible the uniqueness of marriage. Without this complementarity, marriage cannot exist. Male to male or female to female relationships may be very close and intimate, but they are not marriage. Though they may be deep friendship, they cannot be marriage. Just as water can be said to exist only when oxygen and hydrogen unite, so too, marriage can be said to exist only when man and woman unite.

Let us pray for a renewed understanding of this in our Western society.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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