True gender equality

You most likely didn’t read it in the secular papers or see it on CNN or CBS, but a recent statement concerning the status of women given by Archbishop Celestino Migliore is well worth your time. It reminds us of some timeless truths regarding what is needed for true progress for women of all ages versus what happens when we not only accept but push the world’s perverted idea of “progress” or “equality.” 

On March 8, Archbishop Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the United Nations, addressed the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The talk was part of a 15-year review of the U.N. conference on women in Beijing. (That conference, by the way, prompted Pope John Paul II to issue another document that you should add to your reading list: his 1995 Letter to Women.) The archbishop, following in Pope John Paul’s footsteps, didn’t waste any time or any words in pointing out the obvious: The ideology of gender equality is hurting, not helping, women. 

“Achieving equality between women and men in education, employment, legal protection and social and political rights is considered in the context of gender equality. Yet the evidence shows that the handling of this concept, as hinted in the Cairo and Beijing conferences, and subsequently developed in various international circles, is proving increasingly ideologically driven, and actually delays the true advancement of women,” he stated. 

The “evidence,” according to the archbishop, can be seen in the great harm still being done to women around the globe, including the statistics that show how girls and women are the most hurt when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, sexual exploitation (including sex trafficking), physical violence, illiteracy and poverty, not to mention the fallout from abortion, contraception and sexual promiscuity. He goes on to connect the many problems still affecting the female global population to this ideology, which is centered on what I consider to be some of the biggest oxymorons in our language and culture: “gender equality” and “reproductive health.” 

“Almost no outcome document of international conferences and committees, or resolution fails to attempt to link the achievement of personal, social, economic and political rights to a notion of sexual and reproductive health and rights which is violent to unborn human life and is detrimental to the integral needs of women and men within society. While at the same time only seldom are women’s political, economic and social rights mentioned as an inescapable clause and commitment.” 

I’ve learned through my own journey back to Rome that there is good reason for what the Church teaches. As Pope Benedict XVI explained in a June 2006 address opening a Rome diocesan congress on catechesis, God is not some big killjoy in the sky trying to squash all of our fun. 

“Faith and Christian ethics do not wish to suffocate love but to make it healthy, strong and really free,” the pontiff said. “This is precisely the meaning of the Ten Commandments, which are not a series of ‘nos’ but a big ‘yes’ to love and to life.” 

We are designed a certain way, and when we go against that design, or natural law, we can get into all sorts of trouble, physically, spiritually and emotionally. If the cultural agendas are so great, then why are women still suffering so much? This is a simple and direct question that needs to be raised repeatedly, not only in the halls of the United Nations, or in papal documents and addresses, but in our homes, parishes and communities. 

Teresa Tomeo is the host of Catholic Connection, produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 160.