Initial Education in Family Relies on 'Feminine Genius'

Author: Pope John Paul II


Pope John Paul II

Angelus, July 30, 1995

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Message which last 26 May I addressed to Mrs. Gertrude Mongella, Secretary General of the forthcoming Beijing Conference, I made the observation that because of a new appreciation of woman's role in society, it would be appropriate to rewrite history in a less one-sided way. Unfortunately, a certain way of writing history has paid greater attention to extraordinary and sensational events than to the daily rhythm of life, and the resulting history is almost only concerned with the achievements of men. This tendency should be reversed. "How much still needs to be said and written about man's enormous debt to woman in every other realm of social and cultural progress!" (ibid., n. 6; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 31 May 1995). With the intention of helping to fill this gap, I would like to speak on behalf of the Church and to pay homage to the manifold, immense, although frequently silent, contribution of women in every area of human life.

2. Today in particular, I would like to call to mind woman as teacher. It is an extremely positive fact that in countries where the school system is more developed, the presence of women teachers is constantly increasing. We can of course hope that this greater involvement of women in education will lead to a qualitative leap in the educational process itself. It is a well-founded hope, if one considers the deep meaning of education, which cannot be reduced to the dry imparting of concepts but must aim at the full growth of man in all his dimensions. In this respect, how can we fail to understand the importance of the "feminine genius"? It is also indispensable for the initial education in the family. Its "educational" effect on the child begins when he is still in his mother's womb.

But woman's role in the rest of the formational process is just as important. She has a unique capacity to see the person as an individual, to understand his aspirations and needs with special insight, and she is able to face up to problems with deep involvement. The universal values themselves, which any sound education must always present, are offered by feminine sensitivity in a tone complementary to that of man. Thus the whole educational process will certainly be enriched when men and women work together in training projects and institutions.

3. May the Holy Virgin guide this rediscovery of the feminine mission in the field of education. Mary had a unique relationship with her divine Son: on the one hand she was a docile disciple, meditating on his words in the depths of her heart; on the other, as his mother and teacher, she helped his human nature to grow "in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man" (Lk 2:52). May the women and men who work in the field of education and are committed to building man's future, look to her!

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
2 August 1995, p. 1.

L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
The Weekly Edition in English is published for the US by:

The Cathedral Foundation
L'Osservatore Romano English Edition
320 Cathedral St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Subscriptions: (410) 547-5315
Fax: (410) 332-1069