By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI praised the millions of Catholic women in the world who inspire their husbands and children to live truly Christian lives.
At his weekly general audience Oct. 27, the pope said he wanted to recognize “the many women who, day after day, enlighten their families with their witness of Christian life.”
“May the Spirit of the Lord raise up holy Christian spouses today to show the world the beauty of marriage lived according to the Gospel values: love, tenderness, mutual help, fruitfulness in generating and educating children, openness and solidarity with the world, and participation in the life of the church,” he said.
The pope’s remarks about women in the church and in family life were part of his main audience address about the life and influence of St. Bridget of Sweden, who lived in the 14th century.
Bridget and her husband, Ulf, were the parents of eight children and were models of “an authentic conjugal spirituality,” the pope said.
“Often, as happened in the life of St. Bridget and Ulf, it is the woman who, with her religious sensitivity, delicacy and sweetness, is able to make her husband mature in the faith journey,” he said.
After Ulf died, Bridget sold her possessions and dedicated her life to prayer and good works, which makes her a model for Christian widows, the pope said.
St. Bridget also received divine revelations, many of which were addressed, “even in the form of harsh admonitions, to believers in her time, including religious and political authorities so that they would correctly live their Christian life,” Pope Benedict said.
But, he said, she always shared the revelations “with an attitude of respect and full fidelity to the magisterium of the church, particularly to the successor of the Apostle Peter,” Pope Urban V, whom she urged to return to Rome at a time when the papacy was based in Avignon, France.
Pope Benedict said that St. Bridget, founder of the Brigittine Sisters, had hoped to establish a monastic order with branches for both men and women.
“This should not surprise us: In the Middle Ages, there were monastic foundations with a male and female branch that followed the same monastic rule under the direction of an abbess. In fact, the great Christian tradition recognizes that women have their own dignity and — following the example of Mary, queen of the Apostles — their own place in the church, which without involving ordained priesthood, is just as importance for the spiritual growth of the church,” he said.
At the end of the audience, Pope Benedict offered his prayers for the people of Indonesia, suffering the effects of an earthquake, tsunami and volcanic eruption; and for the people of Benin, thousands of whom were left homeless because of flooding.
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Note: The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20101027_en.html.
The text of the pope’s audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20101027_sp.html.
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