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The Letter Every Woman Should Read

Simone Rizkallah

I released a podcast episode with Endow Groups a couple years ago on women’s ordination and why the ordained priesthood is limited to men. One disgruntled Gen-Xer reached out on social media disagreeing with the content of the interview. My social media manager was disturbed at the negativity of the comment and offered to delete it, but I was delighted. If we are going to take back enemy territory for the Kingdom of God (you’ve got to appreciate the intensity of a Christian worldview) then we must be comfortable with being “disruptors.” I suppose the theological category for that is the prophetic.

We messaged this young lady back with an offer to meet with me over Zoom. She showed up with copious notes she took while listening to the podcast and we tackled her questions and concerns one by one. I then asked her to do me a favor and read John Paul II’s 1995 pastoral Letter to Women. It’s six pages. It was written to every single woman in the entire world, not just Catholic women and not just believers. I even gave this stranger my phone number, introduced her (ironically) to the technology of iPhone voice notes, and told her she was welcome to externally process her thoughts (like the extrovert she is) as she read the letter.

The first voice note I received was somewhat negative: “I am grateful the Pope is thanking women, but to be honest, I want apologies.” I smiled and left her a response: “Keep reading.” As soon as John Paul finishes thanking women, he writes: “I know of course that simply saying thank you is not enough.”

The Holy Father’s lack of defensiveness (another sign of his true sanctity) in dealing forthrightly and honestly with the ways in which women have been hurt by men, by the world, and sometimes by the Church won this young woman over.

As usual, winning souls happens in the dynamic relationship with two realities which are really a single reality: caritas in veritate (charity in truth) and veritas in caritate (truth in love.)

Happy International Women’s Day!

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