Loading women with “functions to fulfill” in the Church only leads “halfway” to real feminism, Pope Francis warned in a homily December 12 at a Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St Peter’s Basilica.

Full text of the Pope’s homily:

Today’s celebration, the biblical texts we have heard, and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that reminds us of the Nican mopohua, suggest three adjectives for her: Lady-woman, mother and mestizo.

Mary is a woman. She is a woman, she is a Lady, as Nican mopohua says. Woman with the dignity of woman. She introduces herself as a woman, and introduces herself with a message from someone else; that is, she is a woman, a Lady and a disciple. Saint Ignatius liked to call her Our Lady. And it is that simple, nothing else is needed: she is a woman, a disciple.

Christian piety, throughout the ages, has always sought to praise her with new titles: they were filial titles, titles of the love of the people of God, but they did not change at all that being woman-disciple.

St. Bernard told us that when we talk about Mary, praise, titles of praise are never enough; they did not change her humble discipleship at all. Disciple.

Faithful to her Master, who is her Son, the only Redeemer, she never wanted for herself something that was of her Son. She never introduced himself as co-redemptrix. No, disciple.

And some Holy Father says somewhere that discipleship is more worthy than motherhood. Matters of theologians, but disciple. She never stole for herself anything that was of her Son; she served him because she is a mother, she gives life in the fullness of time, as we hear from that Son born of a woman.

Mary is our Mother, she is Mother of our peoples, she is Mother of all of us, she is Mother of the Church, but she is also a symbol of the Church. And she is the mother of our hearts, of our souls.

Some Holy Father says that what can be said about Mary can be said, in a way, of the Church, and in a way, of our soul. Because the Church is feminine and our soul has that ability to receive grace from God, and in a sense the Fathers saw the soul as feminine. We cannot think of the Church without this Marian principle that spreads itself.

When we look for the role of the woman in the Church, we can go through the path of functionality, because the woman has functions to fulfill in the Church, but that leaves us halfway.

The woman in the Church goes further, with that Marian principle, that “maternalises” the Church, and transforms it into the Holy Mother Church.

Mary woman, Mary mother, without any other essential title. The other titles — think of the Loreto litanies — are titles of children in love who sing to the Mother, but do not change the essence of Mary’s being: woman and mother.

And the third adjective that I would say looking at her, she wanted us mestiza [mixed race], she became mestiza. But not only with Juan Dieguito, but with the people as well. She became mestiza to be Mother of all, she became mestiza with humanity. Why? Because she made God mestizo. And this is the great mystery: Mother Mary makes God a mestizo, true God but also true man, in her Son.

When they come to us with the stories of declaring her this or making that dogma, let’s not get lost in foolishness: Mary is a woman, she is Our Lady, Mary is the Mother of her Son and the Holy Mother hierarchical Church and Mary is mestiza, woman of our peoples, but who made God mestizo.

May she speak to us as she spoke to Juan Diego, from these three titles: with tenderness, with feminine warmth and with the proximity of mestizaje. So be it.

(Source: Vatican Press Office/Novena translation)


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