Equality, complementarity and feminine genius

My life was transformed by the feminism of John Paul II.  I am a woman, a daughter of God the Father, and a sister of Jesus Christ.   I am made to contribute something meaningful, beautiful and lasting to the kingdom of God.  I’m made, precisely as a woman, to reflect the creative and loving genius of the Blessed Trinity.

But I didn’t always know this.  In fact, for most of my life, I didn’t think much about my femininity.  I certainly never perceived that I have a feminine genius: a unique way of thinking and seeing and loving, as a woman.  Like a lot of people, I had a tepid relationship with secular feminism: I was aware that cultural and historical advances benefitted me as a woman, and while grateful, I also was uncomfortable with the aggressive excesses of radical feminists.

But I became a feminist—a true feminist—when I read John Paul II’s 1995 “Letter to Women.”  John Paul’s feminism is rooted in the idea that women and men are creative and active complements—together mirroring the active, creative love of God.  John Paul told me—and all women—that we have a unique and vital role to play in the family, in the Church, and in the world.

“Thank you, every woman,” said John Paul II, “for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.”

I became a feminist when John Paul II told me that women can bring grace and virtue and goodness to the world in a unique way.

The “Letter to Women” was written to precede the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women.  John Paul wrote to express hope that the U.N. would recognize that “in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation.”

Sadly, the United Nations has failed to recognize that women fulfill their deepest vocation in the service of others.  The U.N. has adopted policies that harm women, especially in developing nations and broken families.  United Nations’ programs endorse aggressive forms of population control, sanctioning heavy-handed tactics to persuade poor women to abandon the centuries-old traditions that come with large families, in favor of economic incentives for birth control.  The United Nations talks a great deal about human trafficking and forced prostitution, but does very little even to stop its own paramilitary forces from sexually exploiting women and children.

Most recently, the United Nations lambasted the Catholic Church for its pro-life convictions, which are decidedly in favor of protecting the lives and health of women.

In short, the United Nations has succumbed to a dangerous secularist agenda—minimizing the unique dignity of women, endangering their health and safety, and failing to grasp that nurturing, enabling and protecting—biological, spiritual or cultural motherhood—are at the heart of women’s identity and of the feminine genius.

On March 8, the United Nations will celebrate the 18th International Women’s Day.  The day’s theme will be “Equality for Women is Progress for All.”  I agree with this sentiment.  Recognizing and protecting the equality of women enhances the wellbeing of us all.  Men and women are complementary, and the subjugation of woman erodes the dignity of the human community.

John Paul himself reflected that there is “an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens.”

But equality is rooted in a true understanding of the human person: of the things we have in common, and the things that make us distinct.  Women cannot be regarded as equals without a recognition that women and men are different—made to complement one another, in different roles, and in the freedom to live, and love, as God created them.

On March 8, I will celebrate International Women’s Day.  I’ll pray for all women, and give thanks to God for the gift of the feminine genius.  I’ll also pray that we’ll all begin to realize what made women unique, and what they can offer to the world.  And I’ll pray that the organizers of International Women’s Day will become feminists—real feminists—who know that the power of women lies in their ability to share in the powerful, creative and nurturing love of Jesus Christ.

Terry Polakovic is a co-founder and executive director of Endow, a Denver headquartered organization that promotes the new feminism of Pope John Paul II.

Equality, complementarity and feminine genius

My life was transformed by the feminism of John Paul II.  I am a woman, a daughter of God the Father, and a sister of Jesus Christ.   I am made to contribute something meaningful, beautiful and lasting to the kingdom of God.  I’m made, precisely as a woman, to reflect the creative and loving genius of the Blessed Trinity.

But I didn’t always know this.  In fact, for most of my life, I didn’t think much about my femininity.  I certainly never perceived that I have a feminine genius: a unique way of thinking and seeing and loving, as a woman.  Like a lot of people, I had a tepid relationship with secular feminism: I was aware that cultural and historical advances benefitted me as a woman, and while grateful, I also was uncomfortable with the aggressive excesses of radical feminists.

But I became a feminist—a true feminist—when I read John Paul II’s 1995 “Letter to Women.”  John Paul’s feminism is rooted in the idea that women and men are creative and active complements—together mirroring the active, creative love of God.  John Paul told me—and all women—that we have a unique and vital role to play in the family, in the Church, and in the world.

“Thank you, every woman,” said John Paul II, “for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.”

I became a feminist when John Paul II told me that women can bring grace and virtue and goodness to the world in a unique way.

The “Letter to Women” was written to precede the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women.  John Paul wrote to express hope that the U.N. would recognize that “in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation.”

Sadly, the United Nations has failed to recognize that women fulfill their deepest vocation in the service of others.  The U.N. has adopted policies that harm women, especially in developing nations and broken families.  United Nations’ programs endorse aggressive forms of population control, sanctioning heavy-handed tactics to persuade poor women to abandon the centuries-old traditions that come with large families, in favor of economic incentives for birth control.  The United Nations talks a great deal about human trafficking and forced prostitution, but does very little even to stop its own paramilitary forces from sexually exploiting women and children.

Most recently, the United Nations lambasted the Catholic Church for its pro-life convictions, which are decidedly in favor of protecting the lives and health of women.

In short, the United Nations has succumbed to a dangerous secularist agenda—minimizing the unique dignity of women, endangering their health and safety, and failing to grasp that nurturing, enabling and protecting—biological, spiritual or cultural motherhood—are at the heart of women’s identity and of the feminine genius.

On March 8, the United Nations will celebrate the 18th International Women’s Day.  The day’s theme will be “Equality for Women is Progress for All.”  I agree with this sentiment.  Recognizing and protecting the equality of women enhances the wellbeing of us all.  Men and women are complementary, and the subjugation of woman erodes the dignity of the human community.

John Paul himself reflected that there is “an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens.”

But equality is rooted in a true understanding of the human person: of the things we have in common, and the things that make us distinct.  Women cannot be regarded as equals without a recognition that women and men are different—made to complement one another, in different roles, and in the freedom to live, and love, as God created them.

On March 8, I will celebrate International Women’s Day.  I’ll pray for all women, and give thanks to God for the gift of the feminine genius.  I’ll also pray that we’ll all begin to realize what made women unique, and what they can offer to the world.  And I’ll pray that the organizers of International Women’s Day will become feminists—real feminists—who know that the power of women lies in their ability to share in the powerful, creative and nurturing love of Jesus Christ.

 

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.