Spring 1998

The Dignity and Mission of Women: The Anthropological and Theological Foundations

Angelo Scola

"A culture that does not accept the revelation of the Trinitarian God ultimately renders itself incapable of understanding sexual difference in a positive sense."

I. A Constant Concern

John Paul II, from the very beginning of his pontificate,1 unfolds the anthropological and theological foundations of the dignity and mission of women and he returns to this important topic with noteworthy frequency. In fact, at least two very important documents have been dedicated specifically to a reflection on women—Mulieris dignitatem (=MD) (1988) and Letter to Women (1995)—and this reflection has appeared with analytical comprehensiveness in catecheses, talks, addresses, homilies, and so forth. Morever, with respect to the teaching of previous pontiffs,2 such teaching marks a considerable advance, qualitatively and quantitatively.3

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1. Already on April 29, 1979 John Paul II took up the question in an audience granted to the participants of the Tenth National Congress of Italian Domestic Workers. Cf. "Woman's Dignity," Origins 9, no. 2 (May 31, 1979): 31-32.