25 November 2020
The feminine face of Evangelii Gaudium: Mary, the Church, and Women in the thought of Pope Francis
The Secretary’s reflections for the International Council of the UMOFC/WUCWO
The International Council of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (UMOFC/WUCWO) met virtually over these past few days via videoconference for the annual formation course for the thirty new councilors, who represent four continents.
The second session of the webinar took place on 24 November. After the introductory greetings from the President of the UMOFC, Dr. M. Lía Zervino, and the Ecclesiastical Assistant, Fr. Gerard Whelan, the webinar was given over to the Secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello.
The theme for the webinar, as expounded by the Secretary, was: “The feminine face of Evangelii Gaudium: Mary, the Church, and women in the thought of Pope Francis.” The presentation proposed an interpretive key for understanding the ecclesiology and Mariology of this Apostolic Exhortation, especially regarding the feminine face that it envisions.
Fr. Awi Mello analyzed the thought of Pope Francis, who proposes an “applied Mariology”—that is, a vision of Mary as Church, in that the Church is mother, people of God, and of a missionary character. Mary, therefore, shares the face of the Church and vice versa, and is thus relevant for a renewed definition of the identity of women in the world. Preserving this aspect of Marian femininity in our understanding of women does not reduce women to the role of motherhood, but rather opens the door for their identification with the Church’s missionary character and enables them to become the people of God: it thus forms them into the Church herself.
As Church, concluded Fr. Awi Mello, women carry within them that character which is necessary for the Church today, which the Pope calls a “revolution of tenderness.”