We should be grateful to Anne-Marie Pelletier for her recent book L’Église, des femmes avec des hommes, which collects and develops several lines of reflection on the relationship between women and men in the Church that she had already initiated in previous writings.
This issue is topical and of crucial importance. After all, the popes have been talking about it for decades, and John XXIII had rightly identified the new awareness of the dignity and responsibility of women among the main “signs of the times” in his famous encyclical Pacem in Terris (1963). There has been no lack of interventions and very important documents. Above all, John Paul II repeatedly turned his attention to women during his long pontificate (think, for example, of the apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988, or the Letter to Women, 1995).
Without denying all this, Pelletier rightly observes that declarations are one thing, their reception in the life of the Church is something completely different. Numerous, beautiful words of homage to women by popes have often been met with suspicion by those engaged in movements for their promotion and emancipation on the grounds they appear to confirm stereotypical visions of women instead of questioning any possible ambiguities. It is therefore necessary to continue to approach women without fear and distrust as they make their arduous historical journey toward the full recognition of their equal dignity and their rights.