Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Women Invited To Form Study Groups On Pope’s Letter

By SUZANNE HAUGH, Special To The Bulletin | Published September 6, 2007

The Pontifical Council for the Laity is encouraging the faithful worldwide to observe the 20th anniversary in 2008 of Mulieris Dignitatem, or “The Dignity of Women,” an apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II released in 1988 that encourages women in their vocations and highlights the essential feminine genius that they provide to the world.

To prepare for this milestone, the council recently launched a campaign to heighten awareness of the document through grassroots efforts that include stimulating discussion of the apostolic letter by women, particularly, who will consider planning study groups or scheduling knowledgeable speakers, among other activities, at their parishes or at the diocesan level.

Through the document, Pope John Paul II hoped to promote the restoration of spiritual and physical motherhood to a culture that he saw was losing sight of the meaning of nuptial love.

Catholics of North America are being asked to consider the document in light of one overarching theme: “The Dignity of Women in a Technological and Consumeristic Society.”

“Technology and consumerism have assaulted the family and women, especially, who have been drawn into masculine models of operating as well as suffering the peddling of women’s bodies and sex, which demeans them,” according to Genevieve Kineke, author of “The Authentic Catholic Woman” and one of a handful of Catholic authors and other professionals who are providing direction and support for the effort.

The Web site provides available resources, including the text of the apostolic letter, and includes a list of pertinent books and available speakers familiar with the document. The Web site will also evolve as people post their own reflections and information on the events they may be sponsoring within their parishes or dioceses.

“It is indeed an exciting time for women of the Third Millennium!” proclaimed Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, whose most recent book, “Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers-To-Be” is among others she has written about Catholic motherhood. She also was invited by the council to serve as one of the planners and speakers for the initiative.

“The laity and Religious alike are being called to reflect on the document. We—through our baptismal commitments—will respond in respect to our fundamental equality as Catholics. Our informed response after having read and spent time in thoughtful consideration of Mulieris Dignitatem, can be through group discussions, reflective articles in various venues, catechetical explanation of it for those who may not understand it, or the planning of events to promote its applications. The Holy Spirit must guide that and we will rejoice as it unfolds,” she said.