The first ever “Women’s March on Washington” was this Saturday. ProLife Women were uninvited. So of course, being a ProLife Woman myself, that meant I had to go. Challenge accepted. Right? Right. So off to Washington DC with my dear friend went I. We witnessed to life. We got yelled at. She got shoved. We saw a lot more vulgarity than we anticipated. And a lot more women.
Amid the jostling and screaming were moments of dialogue; connecting with our sisters, as misguided as we thought some of them were. The dialogue was beautiful. Most of the signs…not so much.
It was hard to not notice how many wounds lay underneath the anger, and how much confusion, too. I found myself wondering how many of these ladies could actually articulate what it IS to be a woman.
This train of thought led me to musing about Pope St. John Paul II. I found myself reflecting on the Late Pope John Paul the Great and how he had so many deeply profound and beautiful things to say both to and about women. Had he been there, I think he would have had much to say to the Marchers on Saturday, and I think it would have sounded like this:
If JPII Had Spoken From The Stage:
Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.
I know of course that simply saying “thank you” is not enough. Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude.
This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. Certainly it is no easy task to assign the blame for this, considering the many kinds of cultural conditioning which down the centuries have shaped ways of thinking and acting. And if objective blame, especially in particular historical contexts, has belonged to not just a few members of the Church, for this I am truly sorry. May this regret be transformed, on the part of the whole Church, into a renewed commitment of fidelity to the Gospel vision. When it comes to setting women free from every kind of exploitation and domination, the Gospel contains an ever relevant message which goes back to the attitude of Jesus Christ himself. (Letter to Women, 1995)
To the Women Holding Signs of Female Anatomy and Wearing “Special Hats:”
“There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”
Ever-present at the March were the now infamous hats and a multitude of signs that displayed female body parts that are supposed to be “private.” I couldn’t help but think that this is the result of the pornified culture in which we live. Pornography turns people into “parts.” In a culture that wallows in pornography is it any wonder that women themselves fail to realize that they are a whole person? Instead they identify with their “parts;” eliminating the human dimension from themselves!
To The Women Who Brought Their Children With Them:
Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life. (Letter to Women, 1995)
To The Women Who Came Because They Were Protesting Sexual Violence:
“…when we look at one of the most sensitive aspects of the situation of women in the world, how can we not mention the long and degrading history, albeit often an “underground” history, of violence against women in the area of sexuality? At the threshold of the Third Millennium we cannot remain indifferent and resigned before this phenomenon. The time has come to condemn vigorously the types of sexual violence which frequently have women for their object and to pass laws which effectively defend them from such violence. Nor can we fail, in the name of the respect due to the human person, to condemn the widespread hedonistic and commercial culture which encourages the systematic exploitation of sexuality and corrupts even very young girls into letting their bodies be used for profit. (Letter to Women, 1995)
To The Women Protesting Victim Shaming and Demanding Abortion Access for Rape Victims:
“…what great appreciation must be shown to those women who, with a heroic love for the child they have conceived, proceed with a pregnancy resulting from the injustice of rape. Here we are thinking of atrocities perpetrated not only in situations of war, still so common in the world, but also in societies which are blessed by prosperity and peace and yet are often corrupted by a culture of hedonistic permissiveness which aggravates tendencies to aggressive male behaviour. In these cases the choice to have an abortion always remains a grave sin. But before being something to blame on the woman, it is a crime for which guilt needs to be attributed to men and to the complicity of the general social environment. (Letter to Women, 1995)
To The Women Protesting the Glass Ceiling and Demanding Equal Pay:
As far as personal rights are concerned, there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic State.
This is a matter of justice but also of necessity. Women will increasingly play a part in the solution of the serious problems of the future: leisure time, the quality of life, migration, social services, euthanasia, drugs, health care, the ecology, etc. In all these areas a greater presence of women in society will prove most valuable, for it will help to manifest the contradictions present when society is organized solely according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity, and it will force systems to be redesigned in a way which favours the processes of humanization which mark the “civilization of love” (Letter to Women, 1995).
To The Women Demanding Unity, Inclusiveness and Gender Fluidity:
In the “unity of the two”, man and woman are called from the beginning not only to exist “side by side” or “together”, but they are also called to exist mutually “one for the other”. The text of Genesis 2:18-25 shows that marriage is the first and, in a sense, the fundamental dimension of this call. But it is not the only one. The whole of human history unfolds within the context of this call…In this history, on the basis of the principle of mutually being “for” the other, in interpersonal “communion”, there develops in humanity itself, in accordance with God’s will, the integration of what is “masculine” and what is “feminine”….In the chapter on “The Community of Mankind” in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, we read: “The Lord Jesus, when he prayed to the Father ‘that all may be one … as we are one’ (Jn 17: 21-22), opened up vistas closed to human reason. For he implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons and the union of God’s children in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self”. (Mulieris Dignitatem, 7)
To Those Screaming “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries:” (Yes, they really did scream that)
Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart…” (Evangelium Vitae, 3)
To The Women Who Marched Because They Are Proud of Their Womanhood:
“A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that God “entrusts the human being to her”, always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them “strong” and strengthens their vocation. Thus the “perfect woman” (cf. Prov 31:10) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit. These “perfect women” are owed much by their families, and sometimes by whole nations.
..our time in particular awaits the manifestation of that “genius” which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance: because they are human! – and because “the greatest of these is love.” (Mulieris Dignitatem, 30).
To The Women Who Marched Because They Are Searching For Happiness:
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.” (World Youth Day Evening Address, 2000)
To Those Who Marched Because They Want to Change the World:
It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” (World Youth Day Evening Address, 2000)
And To Those of Us Who Marched Because We Refused to Be Silent:
Never tire of firmly speaking out in defense of life from its conception and do not be deterred from the commitment to defend the dignity of every human person with courageous determination. Christ is with you: be not afraid!