The Letter to Women from Blessed John Paul II


The Letter of John Paul II to Women was signed on 29 June 1995, published on Monday 10 July, and presented at a press conference chaired by the then-president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Eduardo Francisco Pironio, with the participation of Giulia Paola Di Nicola of the University of Teramo and Maria Graça Sales, an official of the Pontifical Council.

This is a special document in the format of a letter addressed “directly and almost confidentially”[1] to each and every woman. In the context immediately preceding the United Nations' 4th World Conference on Women, the Pope speaks directly to women in order to engage them, to question them personally, and to invite every one of them to reflect on their personal, cultural, social and ecclesial responsibility that comes from being women.[2]

Many women wrote giving their reactions to the pope’s initiative and thanking him for his words. They appreciated the novel and direct tone, and they accepted the task entrusted to them to engage directly in building society according to the characteristics of "feminine genius". Editions of L'Osservatore Romano in Italian subsequent to the publication of the Letter published the responses of many women and set up a sort of "ideal dialogue" between the pope and women.

The Letter to Women was written in continuity with the 1988 apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem, incorporating and expanding its message. Both documents offer John Paul II’s rich anthropological perspective. ... Continue

[1] Cf. John Paul II, Angelus, 9 July 1995.

[2] “Given the urgency and complexity of issues relating to the status of women today, the Holy See delegation’s contribution to the Beijing Conference is not enough for the Pope. He wants each woman to become personally involved in this work, and therefore he speaks ‘directly to the hearts and minds’ of each and asks them to reflect with him on themselves and their cultural, social and ecclesial responsibility that flows from their being women (cf. 1).” (Eduardo Card. Pironio, “The fate of humanity in the Third Millennium will be played out in the heart and mind of every woman, in: L'Osservatore Romano Italian edition, 10-11 July 1995).

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