Spanish cardinals have condemned gender-based violence, recalling that “Jesus always stood for the equal dignity of men and women”.

– Archbishop of Barcelona insists “Catholics reject any kind of violence”; Archbishop of Madrid says “violence against any person is ‘a wound in the flesh of humanity'”

This November 25, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Pope Francis led the way by lamenting on Twitter that “too often, women are insulted, beaten, raped, forced to prostitute themselves…”.

“If we want a better world, that will be a peaceful home and not a battlefield, we all need to do a lot more for the dignity of each woman”, the pontiff clamoured.

In Spain, Archbishop of Barcelona Cardinal Juan José Omella echoed the Pope’s condemnation of gender-based violence and insisted that “Catholics reject any kind of violence” because “unconditional love of neighbor is one of the commandments of Christianity”.

“Jesus always stood for the equal dignity of men and women, recognising their complementarity”, Omella wrote also on Twitter.

For his part, Archbishop of Madrid Cardinal Carlos Osoro also took to the social network to denounce that “violence against any person is ‘a wound in the flesh of humanity’, as Pope Francis reminds us”.

“Today we pray for women who are victims of violence, and that we may know how to cultivate true equality, which is born of our very dignity and of living in fraternity”, Osoro said.

– Madrid church bells ring in unison in memory of victims of domestic violence

Also in Madrid on Wednesday evening, the bells of more than 40 churches rang in unison at 7pm in memory of victims of domestic violence and as part of a prayer vigil organised by the archdiocesan Commission for a Life Free of Violence against Women.

Julia Almansa, the head of the Commission, led the vigil in the presence of Cardinal Osoro, in which she read out, one by one, the names of the 41 women in Spain who have been murdered by their partners over the year to date.

Almansa recalled the Gospel passage of the woman taken in adultery, in which “Jesus takes a stand and asks us all to look at ourselves in our sin”.

She also called for a “constant response in our communities” in order to achieve the “eradication” of domestic violence. “As a Church, let us incorporate a change in our relationships, in our accompaniment and in our practices”, Almansa urged.

“This Church of ours… has to be a safe space for all women and a defender at any cost of our dignity, fighting against all forms of violence, whether physical, emotional, structural or economic”, clamoured the head of the archdiocesan commission against violence towards women.

1,074 deaths from gender-based violence have been recorded in Spain since 2003, according to official government figures which also reveal that 775 children have been orphaned as a result of the murders of their mothers. Worldwide, up to one in three women report suffering physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, according to UN statistics.

But in the face of the “structural” problem of sexist violence – an “expression of power and inequality… rooted in the excesses of patriarchy” – Almansa recalled that “Jesus is forceful: I have come so that ALL of you women may have life, and life in abundance”.

For that reason, the head of the Madrid archdiocesan commission urged the Church to call the “sin” of gender-based violence by its name and to denounce it as “a reality not willed by God”, and that much without ever falling into “indifference”.

“In the Church we have not a few abused women, and also abused men. We must not turn away from their crosses, but instead must help to take them down from them and denounce the men who have unscrupulously nailed them up”, Almansa cried, calling for “zero tolerance” in the Church and society for violence against women.

More stories on Novena on women’s rights:

New book lifts lid on “shocking” sexual and spiritual abuse of women in Church

Spanish Catholic NGO decries “widespread apathy” in face of fact 30% of world’s women and girls live in fear of violence

Polish women are taking to the streets to reject the Church’s hold over their bodies – and country

Madrid Catholic women deplore Church’s “dangerous reverence for the ‘sacred and consecrated’ male”

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.