“The way we treat women’s bodies reveals our level of humanity”, Pope Francis has pleaded today on End Sexual Violence in Conflict Day.
– “Women embody within themselves the protection of life, communion, and the desire to care for all things”
The pontiff issued the urgent reminder on Twitter today, Friday June 19, which as he recalled is the UN-sponsored International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
“Let us remember that women embody within themselves the protection of life, communion, and the desire to care for all things”, Francis tweeted.
As the UN explains, End Sexual Violence in Conflict Day – which was established in 2015 – has as its purpose that of raising awareness around the horrors of rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilisation, forced marriage, human trafficking and like crimes that take place in contexts of wars around the world.
Today’s Day also honours victims and survivors of sexual violence and pays tribute to those who have stood up and even given their lives in the struggle to eradicate the scourge.
A 2017 UN Secretary General report detailed thousands of cases of rape against men, women and children in conflict situations in 19 countries for which data is available, but on the other hand warned that for every sexual aggression in war that is reported, there are 10 to 20 other cases that go undocumented.
That underreporting has only been aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, the UN warned for the End Sexual Violence in Conflict Day this year, denouncing that “COVID-19 hampers the possibility of survivors to report sexual violence and further exacerbates the existing structural, institutional and sociocultural barriers to reporting such crimes”.
Not only has Pope Francis called, along with UN Secretary General António Guterres, for a global ceasefire in the context of COVID-19, but he has also been fearless in his denunciations of all forms of violence against women.
In a homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on January 1 this year, for example, the pontiff decried that “women are sources of life. Yet they are continually insulted, beaten, raped, forced to prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in the womb”.
“Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God”, Francis insisted in that sermon.
– Tweets for Feast of Sacred Heart, Day of Prayer for Sanctification of Priests
Also today on Twitter, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Pope reminded Catholics that “the Lord always watches over us with mercy”.
“Let us not be afraid of approaching him! He has a merciful heart! If we show him our inner wounds, our inner sins, he will always forgive us. It is pure mercy! Let us go to Jesus!”, Francis also tweeted.
On the social network Friday, the pontiff also issued a special invitation to the faithful on the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.
“I invite you to pray for priests, so that through your prayer the Lord might strengthen their vocation, comfort them in their ministry, and help them always be joyful ministers of the Gospel for all people”, the Pope urged Catholics.