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Male and Female

1st Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 15 April 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today’s catechesis is dedicated to an aspect central to the theme of the family: the great gift that God gave to humanity with the creation of man and woman and with the sacrament of marriage. This catechesis and the next one will treat the difference and complementarity between man and woman, who stand at the summit of divine creation; then the two after that will be on other topics concerning marriage.

Let us begin with a brief comment on the first narrative of creation, in the Book of Genesis. Here we read that God, after having created the universe and all living beings, created his masterpiece, the human being, whom He made in his own image: “in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gn 1:27), so says the Book of Genesis.

And as we all know, sexual difference is present in so many forms of life, on the great scale of living beings. But man and woman alone are made in the image and likeness of God: the biblical text repeats it three times in two passages (26-27): man and woman are the image and likeness of God. This tells us that it is not man alone who is the image of God or woman alone who is the image of God, but man and woman as a couple who are the image of God. The difference between man and woman is not meant to stand in opposition, or to subordinate, but is for the sake of communion and generation, always in the image and likeness of God.

Experience teaches us: in order to know oneself well and develop harmoniously, a human being needs the reciprocity of man and woman. When that is lacking, one can see the consequences. We are made to listen to one another and help one another. We can say that without the mutual enrichment of this relationship — in thought and in action, in affection and in work, as well as in faith — the two cannot even understand the depth of what it means to be man and woman.

Modern contemporary culture has opened new spaces, new forms of freedom and new depths in order to enrich the understanding of this difference. But it has also introduced many doubts and much skepticism. For example, I ask myself, if the so-called gender theory is not, at the same time, an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution. In order to resolve the problems in their relationships, men and women need to speak to one another more, listen to each other more, get to know one another better, love one another more. They must treat each other with respect and cooperate in friendship. On this human basis, sustained by the grace of God, it is possible to plan a lifelong marital and familial union. The marital and familial bond is a serious matter, and it is so for everyone not just for believers. I would urge intellectuals not to leave this theme aside, as if it had to become secondary in order to foster a more free and just society.

God entrusted the earth to the alliance between man and woman: its failure deprives the earth of warmth and darkens the sky of hope. The signs are already worrisome, and we see them. I would like to indicate, among many others, two points that I believe call for urgent attention.

The first. There is no doubt that we must do far more to advance women, if we want to give more strength to the reciprocity between man and woman. In fact, it is necessary that woman not only be listened to more, but that her voice carry real weight, a recognized authority in society and in the Church. The very way Jesus considered women in a context less favourable than ours, because women in those times were relegated to second place. Jesus considered her in a way which gives off a powerful light, which enlightens a path that leads afar, of which we have only covered a small stretch. We have not yet understood in depth what the feminine genius can give us, what woman can give to society and also to us. Maybe women see things in a way that complements the thoughts of men. It is a path to follow with greater creativity and courage.

A second reflection concerns the topic of man and woman created in the image of God. I wonder if the crisis of collective trust in God, which does us so much harm, and makes us pale with resignation, incredulity and cynicism, is not also connected to the crisis of the alliance between man and woman. In fact the biblical account, with the great symbolic fresco depicting the earthly paradise and original sin, tells us in fact that the communion with God is reflected in the communion of the human couple and the loss of trust in the heavenly Father generates division and conflict between man and woman.

The great responsibility of the Church, of all believers, and first of all of believing families, which derives from us, impels people to rediscover the beauty of the creative design that also inscribes the image of God in the alliance between man and woman. The earth is filled with harmony and trust when the alliance between man and woman is lived properly. And if man and woman seek it together, between themselves, and with God, without a doubt they will find it. Jesus encourages us explicitly to bear witness to this beauty, which is the image of God."

"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins venus de Suisse, de Belgique, de Turquie, du Canada et de France, en particulier un groupe de prêtres du diocèse de Fréjus-Toulon avec Monseigneur Dominique Rey et le Séminaire Saint Irénée de Lyon.
Je souhaite à tous un bon pèlerinage dans la joie du Seigneur ressuscité, vous invitant à entrer dans le mystère de sa miséricorde infinie. Que Dieu vous bénisse.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini venuti dalla Svizzera, dal Belgio, dalla Turchia, dal Canada e dalla Francia, in particolare i sacerdoti della Diocesi di Fréjus-Toulon con Monsignor Dominique Rey e il Seminario Sant’Ireneo di Lione. Auguro a tutti un buon pellegrinaggio nella gioia del Signore Risorto, invitandovi ad entrare nel mistero della sua infinita misericordia. Che Dio vi benedica.]

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Canada and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke the peace and joy of the Risen Lord!

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti rispettivamente da Inghilterra, Irlanda, Danimarca, Norvegia, Cina, Indonesia, Nigeria, Canada e Stati Uniti. Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore Risorto!]

Von Herzen grüße ich die Pilger aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache sowie aus Belgien und den Niederlanden. Besonders heiße ich die Gruppe des Blindenapostolats der Erzdiözese Wien willkommen wie auch die Ministranten aus Eupen und die Schwestern vom Göttlichen Erlöser, die ihr 25-jähriges Professjubiläum feiern. Der auferstandene Herr erfülle euch mit seinem Frieden und seiner Freude. Sein lebendiges Wort leite euch auf eurem Weg. Gott segne euch und eure Lieben.

[Di cuore saluto i pellegrini provenienti dai paesi di lingua tedesca, nonché dal Belgio e dai Paesi Bassi. Un particolare benvenuto al gruppo dell’apostolato per i non vedenti dell’Arcidiocesi di Vienna, ai ministranti di Eupen e alle Suore del Divin Redentore che celebrano 25 anni di professione religiosa. Il Signore Risorto vi colmi della Sua pace e gioia. La Sua parola vivente vi guidi sul vostro cammino. Dio benedica voi e i vostri cari.]

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos venidos de España, México, Argentina, Ecuador y otros países latinoamericanos. Queridos hermanos y hermanas, cuando el hombre y la mujer juntos colaboran con el designio divino, la tierra se llena de armonía y confianza. Que Dios les bendiga. Muchas gracias.

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare i gruppi provenienti da Spagna, Messico, Argentina, Ecuador e da altri Paesi dell’America latina. Cari fratelli e sorelle, quando l’uomo e la donna insieme collaborano con il piano divino, la terra si riempie di armonia e di fiducia. Dio vi benedica. Grazie mille.]

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, bem-vindos! Saúdo cordialmente os fiéis da paróquia de Torrão e o grupo de sacerdotes de Portugal. O Senhor vos abençoe, para serdes em toda a parte farol de luz do Evangelho para todos. Possa esta peregrinação fortalecer nos vossos corações o sentir e o viver com a Igreja. Nossa Senhora acompanhe e proteja a vós todos e aos vossos entes queridos.

[Carissimi pellegrini di lingua portoghese, benvenuti! Saluto cordialmente i fedeli della parrocchia di Torrão e il gruppo di sacerdoti del Portogallo. Il Signore vi benedica, perché siate dovunque per tutti faro di luce del Vangelo. Possa questo pellegrinaggio rinvigorire nei vostri cuori il sentire e il vivere con la Chiesa. La Madonna accompagni e protegga voi tutti e i vostri cari!]

أتوجه بتحية قلبية للمؤمنين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة القادمين من لبنان ‏‏ ومن‏ ‏الشرق الأوسط. لقد خلق الله الإنسان، ذكرا وأنثى، على صورته، ومنح كليهما ذات ‏ الكرامة ‏والمساواة: لنعمل إذا، في الكنيسة والمجتمع، على احترام هذه المساواة ورفض كل شكل ‏ من ‏أشكال التعالي أو الظلم، لا سيما ضد المرأة! ليبارككم الرب جميعا، ويحرسكم من الشرير‏!‏

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua araba, ‎in ‎particolare a quelli ‎provenienti dal Libano e dal ‎Medio ‎Oriente. Dio creò l'uomo, maschio e femmina, a ‎sua ‎immagine, dando ad entrambi la stessa dignità e uguaglianza: ‎lavoriamo, nella ‎Chiesa e nella società, affinché tale uguaglianza ‎venga rispettata, rifiutando ogni ‎forma di‏ ‏sopruso o di ‎ingiustizia, in particolare contro le donne. Il Signore ‎vi ‎benedica tutti e vi ‎protegga dal maligno!‎‎]

Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów polskich, szczególnie wszystkich małżonków. Wraz z wami dziękuję Bogu za radość i pokój małżeństw szczęśliwych. Wiemy jednak, jak wiele rodzin, małżeństw jest doświadczonych kryzysami i rozbiciem. Polecam ich waszej modlitwie. Niech ufni w moc Chrystusa Zmartwychwstałego odkryją na nowo jednoczącą siłę sakramentalnego przymierza, a w przebaczeniu i pojednaniu odbudują wzajemne zaufanie. Z serca wam błogosławię.

[Saluto i pellegrini polacchi, in modo particolare tutti gli sposi. Insieme a voi rendo grazie a Dio per la gioia e per la pace delle coppie felici. Sappiamo tuttavia quante sono le famiglie e i coniugi provati dalle crisi e dalle divisioni. Le raccomando alle vostre preghiere. Confidando nella potenza di Cristo Risorto, riscoprano la forza unificante dell’alleanza sacramentale e ricostruiscano la reciproca fiducia nel perdono e nella riconciliazione. Vi benedico di cuore.]

Сардэчна вітаю настаяцеляў і семінарыстаў Вышэйшай духоўнай семінарыі ў Гродне ў Беларусі, якія прыбылі ў пілігрымцы падзякі за 25 гадоў яе дзейнасці. Умілаваныя, няхай візіт да магіл святых апосталаў Пятра і Паўла нагадвае вам, што пакліканне да святарства, перш за ўсё, асабістая сустрэча з уваскрослым Хрыстом, Які кліча і пасылае сваіх вучняў несці ўсім радасную навіну аб збаўленні. Аб'яднаныя з Ім, будзьце мужнымі, каб сведчыць Евангелле са шчырасцю і міласэрнасцю. Я благаслаўляю вас з любоўю. Хвала Езусу Хрысту!

[Saluto cordialmente i superiori e i seminaristi del Seminario Maggiore di Grodno in Bielorussia, venuti in pellegrinaggio di ringraziamento per i 25 anni della sua attività. Carissimi, la visita alle tombe degli Apostoli Pietro e Paolo vi ricorda che la vocazione al sacerdozio è prima di tutto un incontro personale con Cristo Risorto, il quale chiama e invia i suoi discepoli a portare a tutti il lieto annuncio della salvezza. Uniti a Lui, avrete il coraggio di testimoniare il Vangelo con franchezza e misericordia. Vi benedico con affetto. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!]

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere gli studenti del Claretianum in occasione dell’Anno per la vita consacrata e le Religiose del Santissimo Sacramento che ricordano i trecento anni della loro Congregazione: vi esorto a vivere sempre la vocazione religiosa con la gioia e l’entusiasmo dei discepoli del Signore Risorto, sempre fedeli al carisma di fondazione. Saluto i Sacerdoti della Misericordia, la Scuola Sottoufficiali di Viterbo, la Reale Mutua Assicurazioni e i gruppi parrocchiali, in particolare i fedeli di Cervinara e Airola. Saluto la delegazione di Arezzo che mi ha accolto qui in piazza, e che con tanta cortesia mi ha regalato la sua bandiera e il libro della sua storia. Grazie tante!

Un particolare pensiero va ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. In questo tempo di Pasqua, vi incoraggio ad essere dei veri testimoni della Risurrezione, nelle vostre famiglie e nei vostri ambienti di vita: cari giovani, specialmente voi studenti della Scuola Sant’Elisabetta di Roma, ricordate che la misericordia è il dono più bello di Dio; cari ammalati, lasciatevi consolare dal Padre Celeste; e voi, cari sposi novelli, vivete il vostro amore imitando l’amore misericordioso di Gesù."

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

2nd Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family - Male & Female
General Audience, Wednesday 22 April 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the preceding catechesis on the family, I meditated on the first narrative of the creation of the human being, in the first chapter of Genesis, where it is written: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (1:27).

Today, I would like to complete the reflection with the second narrative, which we find in the second chapter. Here we read that the Lord, after having created heaven and earth, “formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (2:7). This is the culmination of creation. But something is missing: then God places man in the most beautiful garden that he might cultivate and look after it (cf. 2:15).

The Holy Spirit, who inspired the whole of the Bible, momentarily evokes the image of man alone — something is missing — without woman. And the Holy Spirit evokes God’s thoughts, even His emotion, as He gazes at Adam, observing him alone in the garden. He is free, he is a lord... but he is alone. And God sees that this “is not good”: as if what is missing is communion, he lacks communion, the fullness is lacking. “It is not good” , God says, and adds: “I will make him a helper fit for him” (2:18).

And so God brings all the animals to man; man gives to each its name — and this is another image of man’s dominion over creation — but he sees that not one of the animals is like himself. Man continues alone. When finally God presents woman, man exultantly recognizes that this creature, and this creature alone, is a part of him: “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (2:23). Finally, there is a reflection, a reciprocity. When a person — to give an example to help us understand — wants to shake hands with another, he must have that person before him: if he holds out his hand and no one is there... his hand remains outstretched, there is no reciprocity. This was how man was, he lacked something to reach his fullness; reciprocity was lacking. Woman is not a replica of man; she comes directly from the creative act of God. The image of the “rib” in no way expresses inferiority or subordination, but, on the contrary, that man and woman are of the same substance and are complimentary and that they also have this reciprocity. And the fact that — also in that parable — God moulds woman while man sleeps means precisely that she is in no way man’s creation, but God’s. He also suggests another point: in order to find woman — and we could say to find love in woman — man first must dream of her and then find her. God’s faith in man and in woman, those to whom he entrusted the earth, is generous, direct and full. He trusts them. But then the devil introduces suspicion into their minds, disbelief, distrust, and finally, disobedience to the commandment that protected them. They fall into that delirium of omnipotence that pollutes everything and destroys harmony. We too feel it inside of us, all of us, frequently.

Sin generates distrust and division between man and woman. Their relationship will be undermined by a thousand forms of abuse and subjugation, misleading seduction and humiliating ignorance, even the most dramatic and violent kind. And history bears the scar. Let us think, for example, of those negative excesses of patriarchal cultures. Think of the many forms of male dominance whereby the woman was considered second class. Think of the exploitation and the commercialization of the female body in the current media culture. And let us also think of the recent epidemic of distrust, skepticism, and even hostility that is spreading in our culture — in particular an understandable distrust from women — on the part of a covenant between man and woman that is capable, at the same time, of refining the intimacy of communion and of guarding the dignity of difference.

If we do not find a surge of respect for this covenant, capable of protecting new generations from distrust and indifference, children will come into the world ever more uprooted from the mother’s womb. The social devaluation for the stable and generative alliance between man and woman is certainly a loss for everyone. We must return marriage and the family to the place of honour! The Bible says something beautiful: man finds woman, they meet and man must leave something in order to find her fully. That is why man will leave his father and mother to go to her. It’s beautiful! This means setting out on a new path. Man is everything for woman and woman is everything for man.

The responsibility of guarding this covenant between man and woman is ours, although we are sinners and are wounded, confused and humiliated, discouraged and uncertain; it is nevertheless for us believers a demanding and gripping vocation in today’s situation. The same narrative of creation and of sin ends by showing us an extremely beautiful icon: “The Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). It is an image of tenderness towards the sinful couple that leaves our mouths agape: the tenderness God has for man and woman! It’s an image of fatherly care for the human couple. God himself cares for and protects his masterpiece."

"Je suis heureux de vous accueillir chers amis de langue française, particulièrement les paroisses et les nombreux jeunes venus de France, ainsi que la paroisse francophone de Bucarest. Que Dieu bénisse chacune de vos familles et donne à celles que la vie a brisées la force et le courage dans l’épreuve ! Bon pèlerinage !

[Sono lieto di accogliere i cari amici di lingua francese, particolarmente le parrocchie e i numerosi giovani venuti dalla Francia, come pure il gruppo parrocchiale francese di Bucarest. Che Dio benedica ciascuna delle vostre famiglie e doni a quelle che la vita ha ferito la forza e il coraggio nella prova! Buon pellegrinaggio!]

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from Ireland, Finland, Norway, South Africa, Australia, China, Japan, Canada and the United States.  May the Risen Lord confirm you in faith and make you witnesses of his love and mercy.  May God bless you all!

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti rispettivamente da Irlanda, Finlandia, Norvegia, Sud Africa, Australia, Cina, Giappone, Canada e Stati Uniti.  Il Signore Risorto vi confermi nella fede e vi renda testimoni del suo amore e della sua misericordia.  Dio vi benedica!]

Mit Freude heiße ich die Gläubigen deutscher Sprache willkommen. Werden wir immer mehr Familien des Gebets und vertrauen wir unsere Familien der himmlischen Fürsprache der allerseligsten Jungfrau Maria an, der Mutter der schönen Liebe und der Königin der Familien. Gott segne euch.

[Sono lieto di accogliere i fedeli di lingua tedesca. Diventiamo sempre più famiglie di preghiera, e affidiamo le nostre famiglie alla celeste intercessione della Beatissima Vergine Maria, Madre del Bell’Amore e Regina delle famiglie. Dio vi benedica.]

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España, Argentina y México, así como a los venidos de otros países latinoamericanos. Que imitando a nuestra madre la Virgen María, aprendamos a obedecer a Dios y a fortalecer, entre los hombres y mujeres de hoy, la armonía primera con la que fueron creados y queridos por Dios. Que Dios les bendiga.

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare i gruppi provenienti da Spagna, Argentina e Messico, così come quelli provenienti da altri Paesi dell’America Latina. Che imitando la nostra madre Maria, impariamo a obbedire a Dio e a rafforzare, tra gli uomini e le donne di oggi, l’armonia originaria con cui sono stati creati e amati da Dio. Dio vi benedica.]

Dirijo uma cordial saudação a todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente aos fiéis vindos de Portugal, da Suíça e do Brasil. Rezai por todas as famílias, especialmente aquelas que passam por dificuldades, na certeza de que as famílias são um dom de Deus e o fundamento da vida social. Que Deus vos abençoe!

[Rivolgo un saluto cordiale a tutti i pellegrini di lingua portoghese, in particolare i fedeli venuti da Portogallo, Svizzera e Brasile. Pregate per tutte le famiglie, specialmente per quelle che si trovano in difficoltà, certi che esse sono un dono di Dio e il fondamento della vita sociale! Dio vi benedica!]

أتوجه بتحية قلبية للمؤمنين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة القادمين من الأردن ‏‏ومن‏ ‏الشرق الأوسط. يشهد تاريخ الخلاص على أن الأمانة لوصايا الله تقود الرجل والمرأة إلى عيش علاقة متناغمة ومثمرة ومفرحة لكليهما، بينما عصيانه يقود إلى الانشقاق والشك والتسلط والاستغلال والتنافسية. لنطلب من الله أن يساعد الجميع على إعادة اكتشاف عظمة العهد بين الرجل والمرأة. ليبارككم الرب جميعا، ويحرسكم من الشرير‏!‏

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua araba, ‎in ‎particolare a quelli ‎provenienti dalla Giordania e dal ‎Medio ‎Oriente. La storia della salvezza testimonia che la fedeltà ai comandamenti di Dio porta l’uomo e la donna a vivere una relazione armoniosa, feconda e gioiosa per entrambi, mentre la disobbedienza conduce al dissenso, al sospetto, alla prevaricazione, allo sfruttamento e alla competitività. Chiediamo a Dio di aiutare tutti a riscoprire la grandezza dell’alleanza tra l’uomo e la donna. Il Signore ‎vi ‎benedica tutti e vi ‎protegga dal maligno!‎‎]

Witam pielgrzymów polskich. Jutro przypada uroczystość św. Wojciecha. Jego męczeńska śmierć przed tysiącem lat stała się fundamentem rodzącego się wówczas waszego Kościoła i państwa. Święty Jan Paweł II powiedział o nim, „że jest on natchnieniem dla tych, którzy dziś pracują nad zbudowaniem nowej Europy, z uwzględnieniem jej korzeni kulturowych i religijnych” (Gniezno, 3 VI 1997 r.). Niech wstawiennictwo Patrona Polski umocni was w wierze, wyprosi pokój i rozwój waszej Ojczyzny. Z serca wam błogosławię.

[Saluto i pellegrini polacchi. Domani celebreremo la solennità di Sant’Adalberto. Il suo martirio, oltre mille anni fa, divenne fondamento della vostra chiesa e della vostra nazione. San Giovanni Paolo II disse che egli “rimane un ispiratore ineguagliabile per coloro che oggi lavorano alla costruzione di un’Europa rinnovata nella fedeltà alle sue radici culturali e religiose” (Gniezno, 3 VI 1997). La celeste protezione del Patrono della Polonia vi confermi nella fede e interceda per la pace e lo sviluppo della vostra patria. Dio vi benedica.]

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere le giovani suore riunite per il Convegno formativo presso l’USMI,  i religiosi del Santissimo Sacramento e i seminaristi di diverse Diocesi italiane: auspico che sappiate dare testimonianza gioiosa della vocazione ricevuta, consapevoli che l’impegno missionario non dipende solo dai nostri sforzi, ma soprattutto dalla grazia che a piene mani elargisce il Signore.

Oggi si celebra la Giornata della Terra. Esorto tutti a vedere il mondo con gli occhi di Dio Creatore: la terra è l’ambiente da custodire e il giardino da coltivare. La relazione degli uomini con la natura non sia guidata dall’avidità, dal manipolare e dallo sfruttare, ma conservi l’armonia divina tra le creature e il creato nella logica del rispetto e della cura, per metterla a servizio dei fratelli, anche delle generazioni future.

Un particolare pensiero porgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Imparate dalla Vergine Maria a vivere questo Tempo Pasquale, concedendo spazio all’ascolto della Parola di Dio e alla pratica della carità, vivendo con gioia l’appartenenza alla Chiesa, la famiglia dei discepoli del Cristo Risorto."

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana