The Church needs the feminine genius

It seems like a day didn’t go by in 2013 when the media wasn’t publicizing a quote from Pope Francis or a charitable act of his. But beyond those headlines Pope Francis has already given us much to reflect about, particularly in his call for “a more profound theology of woman.”

One event that will take place in the archdiocese on Feb. 8 and brings to mind his repeated call for this development is the annual gala for Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women), a ministry whose goal is to promote a new feminism based on the teachings of Pope John Paul II.

The work that Endow does to help women discover or deepen their own feminine genius is urgently needed by our culture and our Church. Since its founding in Denver in 2003, the organization has blessed women throughout the United States and beyond with their promotion of the genius of women.

The Catholic Church has a long history of women playing vital roles at key moments. There is the example of the Virgin Mary, without whom the Church would not look the same, or St. Catherine of Siena, who helped reform the Church during a period of great turmoil. In more modern times there are saintly women like Blessed Mother Teresa or St. Gianna Beretta Molla who have provided inspiration to the world.
We live in a society today that is confused about the contribution women can make to it.

The last few decades have brought some changes that are good under the right circumstances, such as an increased participation of women in civil society, academia and the work force. But they have also seen the acceptance of ideas about what it means to be a woman that are a distortion of the true feminine genius.

This brand of feminism promotes what Pope Francis called “a kind of ‘female machismo,’” and the solutions it offers to increasing the presence of women in the Church make him “wary,” he said, “because a woman has a different make-up than a man.”

Incorporating the unique gifts of women into the Church, the Holy Father said in his Sept. 30, 2013, interview with La Civilta Cattolica magazine, can only be done by developing a “profound theology of the woman.”
I believe that a good place to start this development is by looking at the examples of Mary, the hundreds of female saints and the women present in each of our lives.
One of the greatest God-given gifts women possess is that they orient their lives “for others”—their femininity inclines them to be selfless. This is most evident in the way that they sacrifice themselves to bring new life into the world, and I don’t just mean on the physical level.

I know many lay women and religious sisters who pour themselves out in love for others, who spend their lives raising spiritual sons and daughters, like the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich., who teach the future priests of our archdiocese.

Women are also equipped emotionally and psychologically to be close to others, to bring to light those matters of the heart that are truly important. Without these gifts, the world and the Church is poorer, more violent and less beautiful.

Finally, a crucial part of the feminine genius is the ability to nurture, develop and grow beauty. Think for a moment about the Blessed Mother, who heard the announcement of the Archangel Gabriel that she would bear Jesus and pondered that reality in her heart as he grew inside of her. Again, when she heard the greeting of her cousin Elizabeth—“Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”—and held it in her heart and trusted in God’s plan. The fruit of her trust was the beautiful life of Jesus, the Incarnate Word.

She must have recalled these words as she raised Jesus, as she taught him about the true, good and beautiful, and as she accompanied him to the cross.

Those of us who are men are called to support women in developing their feminine genius and exercising their gifts. Mary and Joseph raised Jesus together, and Mary needed Joseph’s holiness, physical and moral support to be the mother she was called by God the Father to be.

No one has the ability to change the world like a mother, whether they are one physically or spiritually. The Church is herself a mother, who nurtures and prepares all of us for heaven, and she needs the contributions of women to carry out her mission of bringing the Gospel to the world.

I encourage the Catholic women of the archdiocese to learn more about Endow and participate in their study groups, because the Church needs the gifts you bring to her. With them, the new evangelization will succeed in the archdiocese and beyond!

COMING UP: Colorado Catholic Conference 2021 Legislative Recap

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On June 8, the First Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly adjourned. Over 600 bills were introduced this session. Policy primarily focused on transportation, agriculture, healthcare, fiscal policy, and the state budget. However, the legislature also considered and passed many bills that could impact the Catholic Church in Colorado.  

Some bills that were passed will uphold Catholic social teaching and protect the poor and vulnerable of our society while others pose potentially harmful consequences to the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations, and Colorado citizens who wish to practice their well-founded convictions. There were also many bills that were considered by the legislature that did not pass, including two bills that would have upheld the sanctity of life and two that would have expanded education opportunity for K-12 students.  

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), as the united voice of the four Colorado bishops, advocated for Catholic values at the Capitol and ensured that the Church’s voice was heard in the shaping of policy.  

Below is a recap of the CCC’s 19 priority bills from the 2021 legislative session. For a full list of the legislation the Conference worked on, please visit:  

For regular updates and other information, please sign-up for the CCC legislative network here.  

Six bills the CCC supported that were either passed or enacted

Note: Passed means the bill was approved by both chambers of the legislature and is pending the governor’s signature as of June 9, 2021. Enacted means the bill was signed by the governor and became law.  

HB 21-1011 Multilingual Ballot Access for Voters – Passed  
If enacted, counties where either 2,000 adults or 2.5% of the adult population primarily speak a language other than English will be required to provide a ballot in that language. 

HB 21-1075 Replace The Term Illegal Alien – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1075, the term “illegal alien” was replaced with the term “worker without authorization” as it relates to public contracts for services.  

SB 21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families – Passed  
If enacted, the state government will allocate much-needed funding for nonprofit organizations to provide diapers and other childcare necessities to families in need, including Catholic Charities.  

SB 21-077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing – Enacted    
With the enactment of SB 77, verification of lawful presence will no longer be required for any applicant for a license, certificate, or registration, particularly in the job fields of education and childcare.  

SB 21-146 Improve Prison Release Outcomes – Passed  
If enacted, SB 146 will establish practices that ease the transition back into society for formerly incarcerated persons.  

SB 21-158 Increase Medical Providers for Senior Citizens – Passed  
If enacted, SB 158 will allocate more funding for senior citizen care, which is currently understaffed and underfunded.  

Eight bills the CCC opposed that were passed 

HB 21-1072 Equal Access Services For Out-of-home Placements – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1072, Colorado law now prohibits organizations that receive state funding for placing children with adoptive or foster parents from discriminating on, among other things, the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. This new law will likely to be impacted by the imminent Fulton v. City of Philadelphia U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

HB 21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-Discrimination – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1108, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” are now recognized as protected classes in Colorado nondiscrimination code. This may have serious religious liberty implications for individuals and organizations that wish to practice their well-founded convictions on marriage and human sexuality. 

SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil – Enacted 
With the enactment of SB 006, human remains can now be converted to soil using a container that accelerates the process of biological decomposition, also known as “natural reduction.” 

SB 21-009 Reproductive Health Care Program – Passed 
If enacted, SB 009 will create a taxpayer funded state program to increase access to contraceptives.  

SB 21-016 Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage – Passed 
If enacted, the definition of “family planning services” and “family planning-related services” will not be clearly defined in law and could potentially include abortion. Furthermore, SB 16 removes the requirement that a provider obtain parental consent before providing family planning services to a minor.  

SB 21-025 Family Planning Services for Eligible Individuals– Passed 
If enacted, SB 025 low-income women to be given state-funded contraception, “preventing, delaying, or planning pregnancy” services, which includes cessation services and sterilization services.  

SB 21-142 Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest– Enacted  
The enactment of SB 142 removes the requirement that, if public funds are being used, a physician must perform an abortion at a hospital, and instead allows for abortions to be performed by any “licensed provider.”   

SB21-193 Protection of Pregnant People in Perinatal Period– Passed 
If enacted, SB 193 will eliminate an important protection in Colorado law for a preborn and viable baby when a woman is on life support.  

Five bills the CCC supported that failed  

HB21-1017 Protect Human Life at Conception – Failed 
HB 1017 would have prohibited terminating the life of an unborn child and made it a violation a class 1 felony.  

HB 21-1080 Nonpublic Education and COVID-19 Relief Act – Failed 
HB 1080 would have established a private school and home-based education income tax credit for families who either enroll their child in private school or educate their child at home, thereby expanding education opportunities for families during and after the pandemic.  

HB 21-1183 Induced Termination of Pregnancy State Registrar – Failed 
HB 1183 would have required health-care providers that perform abortions to report specified information concerning the women who obtain the procedure to the state registrar of vital statistics, thereby increasing transparency in the abortion industry.   

HB 21-1191 Prohibit Discrimination COVID-19 Vaccine Status– Failed  
HB 1191 would have prevented individuals from being coerced to take the COVID-19 vaccine by either the state or by employers.  

HB 21-1210 Modifications to Qualified State Tuition Programs – Failed 
HB 1210 would have allowed families to use some of their private 529 savings account funds for private K-12 school tuition for their children, including at Catholic schools.   

One bill the CCC opposed that failed 

SB 21-031 Limits on Governmental Responses to Protests– Failed 
SB 031 would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to protect innocent lives when protests turn violent.  

Two bills the CCC was in an “Amend” position that passed  

SB 21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations Sexual Assault – Enacted  
With the enactment of SB 073, the statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct will be removed as of January 1, 2022. Under this law, victims of sexual abuse can pursue a civil cause of action if the statute of limitations has not expired, the abuse happened in Colorado, and the abuse could be considered a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor if it was a criminal case. 

SB 21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act– Passed  
If enacted, SB 88 will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue public and private institutions for abuse that occurred between 1960-2022. Victims would have three years to bring a historical claim, starting from January 1, 2022. Claims brought during this window would be capped at $387,000 for public institutions and at $500,000 for private institutions, with the ability of a judge to double the damages depending on how the private institution handled the situation. Despite unanswered constitutional concerns regarding SB 88, the Colorado Catholic dioceses will also continue to offer opportunities for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to receive support in a non-litigious setting.   

While the legislature has adjourned the 2021 legislative session, there is still the possibility that they will reconvene later this year. To stay up-to-date on Colorado legislative issues and their impact on the Catholic Church in Colorado, be sure to sign up for the CCC legislative network HERE.