Seeing Women Through the Eyes of Jesus Christ

Saturday, November 22 1997

Vatican City (CCCB) — Bishop Gerald Wiesner, O.M.I., of Prince George,in an intervention at the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for America, asked the Synod delegates to open their hearts and commit themselves to healing the divisiveness engendered by the debate on the role of women in the Church. Bishop Wiesner said the need to address the matter of women in the Church in light of the invitation to an “Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ” is in itself a call to conversion, communion and solidarity.

Bishop Wiesner was speaking at the Synod for America in reference to No. 37 of the Instrumentum Laboris regarding women “whose role is increasingly important in the life of the Church.” The Vice-President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, recalling the words of His Holiness Pope John Paul II in his Letter to Women, said when seeing women through the eyes of Jesus Christ we find “openness and welcome, respect and honour, acceptance and tenderness.” “Openness and welcome includes a recognition of the fundamental equality of all the baptized,” said Bishop Wiesner. “It also includes a just and balanced collaboration in leadership roles and the participation of women as an essential ingredient in the Church’s nature as sign and instrument of unity.”

“Respect and honour,” he said, “includes recognition of women’s own consciousness of their dignity and rights and the awareness of and sensitivity to issues related to inclusion and fundamental equality.” “Acceptance begins with a recognition of the complex reality of women’s lives, and is followed by an informed, inclusive and compassionate response,” he continued. “Tenderness,” he said, “flows out of an encounter with the living Christ and offers the hope of healing alienation, loneliness, hard-heartedness, and polarization.”

The Bishop of Prince George concluded by asking a question raised by the Holy Father in his Letter to Women: “How much of Christ’s message has been heard and acted upon?” Bishop Wiesner then asked the delegates to be courageous in examining and responding to the Pope’s question “as a mark of our love and respect for our sisters in Christ.”