WOMEN HAVE MUCH TO OFFER IN POLITICAL LIFE
Pope John Paul II
Angelus, 27 August 1995

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. As the Beijing Conference is now close at hand, today I would like to stress the importance of a greater involvement of women in public life.

A long tradition has seen mostly men involved in politics. Today more and more women are asserting themselves even at the highest levels of representation, national and international.

This process should be encouraged. Politics, in fact, geared as it is to promoting the common good, can only benefit from the complementary gifts of men and women. Of course, it would be naive to expect "miracles" from this alone. It is especially true that for women no less than for men, the quality of politics is measured by the authenticity of the values which inspire them, as well as by the competence, commitment and moral consistency of those who dedicate themselves to this important service.

In every case women are showing that they can make as skilled a contribution as men, a contribution which indeed is proving particularly significant, especially with regard to the aspects of politics that concern the basic areas of human life.

2. How great, for example, is the role they can play on behalf of peace, precisely by being involved in politics, where the fate of humanity is largely decided.

Dear brothers and sisters, peace is the most pressing need of our time. A collective effort is more than ever necessary to restrain the frenzy of arms. However, peace is not limited to the silence of canons. It becomes concrete with justice and freedom. It needs a spiritual atmosphere rich in basic elements such as the sense of God, a taste for the beautiful, love for the truth, the option for solidarity, the capacity for tenderness and the courage of forgiveness. How can we not recognize the valuable contribution which woman can make to promoting this atmosphere of peace!

3. Let us call upon the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Peace, so that she may turn her gaze to those countries of the world where unbridled hatred has caused destruction and death for too long. In this regard, my thoughts cannot but turn to the thousands of mothers, wives and daughters, who in the countries of the former Yugoslav Republic—whether they are Croats, Serbs or Muslims—are still forced to abandon their homes and their loved ones, and are often the object of inhuman treatment and exposed to a very uncertain future. I am particularly troubled by the grave news from Banja Luka. I am close to the zealous and generous Bishop Franjo Komarica, who is almost helplessly witnessing the forced expulsion of his priests, religious and faithful. It is their desire and their right to be able to continue living in their own homes, remaining there as a sign of the reconciliation for which they long and of the coexistence of peoples of different nationalities and religions, which is still possible.

May those responsible for all this suffering open their eyes! May the women on opposing sides, especially the mothers, give one another their hand symbolically in a chain of peace, as if to compel the governments, those fighting and the people to regain their trust in the validity of negotiations and the prospects of peaceful coexistence.

I greet the English-speaking visitors who are here with us for this Angelus prayer. As we invoke the Queen of Peace, my thoughts turn in a special way to Northern Ireland where a year has passed since a cease-fire was declared and where the people of both communities eagerly hope for the advancement of the peace process. May God enlighten all those involved to find the way forward to lasting mutual reconciliation and harmony.

God bless you all!

At the end of this Angelus we must return again to the sad, thorny subject of peace. Turning our gaze to Africa, a continent I am preparing to visit once again in a few weeks, I would like to commend to your prayers and call everyone's attention to the tragic plight of the refugees from Rwanda and Burundi who have been forced to return to their countries of origin.

This is an endless tragedy, whose victims—mostly innocent—are hundreds of thousands of people, men and women, the elderly and children.

We were relieved to learn that a decision has been made to suspend this forced repatriation and that all those who had escaped into the bush to avoid expulsion were returning to the relief centres.

Nonetheless, a definitive solution to this very serious program is urgently needed.

I therefore address a strong and heartfelt appeal to the international community to engage in this task with tireless generosity. I address to those responsible for public life in Rwanda a pressing and cordial invitation to ensure that the refugees return in dignity and safety. I also urge the whole people of Rwanda to accept them with open arms and hearts, in a fraternal spirit of solidarity and reconciliation, as I encourage the Catholic community to be an example to them and to intensify every effort of assistance in their regard. We must pray for peace in Africa and in every part of the world. Regina pacis, ora pro nobis.


Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
30 August 1995, p. 2.

L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
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