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A Return to the Female Biblical Role

Mary Ellen Bork on God's Call to Modern Women

McLEAN, Virginia, AUG. 24, 2004 (Zenit) - A recent Vatican document criticized the "distortions" and "lethal effects" of feminism, calling for "active collaboration between the sexes" and the "authentic advancement of women."

Mary Ellen Bork couldn't agree more.

The writer, lecturer and wife of retired federal judge Robert Bork shared with CATHOLIC ONLINE the need for modern women to reclaim their God-given role in society, and to reject the defective anthropology and misguided ideas of feminism.

Q: Why do you encourage women to embrace a more traditional, biblical role in the secular age?

Bork: Radical feminists and others have denigrated the traditional roles of women as partner, wife and mother in their effort to promote women as individuals whose fulfillment is to be found almost exclusively in the workplace.

Most women are trying to find a balance between responsibilities to family and children and using their gifts in the workplace. They will be happier if they have a conscious appreciation of their irreplaceable role as feminine persons with a special gift for affirming the life of other persons. Women need encouragement from other Christian women and the support of a Church that needs to be better versed in theology of the body.

As Pope John Paul II has taught, women have a key role in returning dignity to the sacrament of marriage and in preserving a culture that is worthy of the human person. These enormously important cultural tasks can be better served by women who are well formed in Christian values and well informed about the cultural battles in the policy arena.

It is as if women hold in their hands the threads that form the basic fabric of society and their efforts to weave these together in a unity will result in a stronger fabric that can resist the centrifugal pull of the culture.

The key to helping women of faith today is to help them to deepen their appreciation of their feminine gifts and their impact on society. Without their gifts the world will be a cold and uncivilized place. Without their specific gifts society will lose its balance because it will lack the cultural environment in which persons thrive best.

The Holy Father has often said the deepest cultural crisis today is the human person, understanding how to live and what life means. Many have settled for a superficial answer to the meaning of life through ignorance and confusion about their sexuality and the spiritual dimension of life.

Women of faith can find support in many new movements in the Church, especially the theology of the body. I want to encourage them to understand their unique dignity and to not be swayed by the cultural pressures that would rob them of a deeply feminine experience of life.

Q: How does the U.S. culture in particular challenge women who want to pursue holiness?

Bork: Our culture is super-affluent, highly technical, wired, secular, over-sexed and in a hurry. It is also generous, tolerant, religious and open.

We have to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves to find the path to holiness in this "slough of despond." One basic challenge is the fallacy that we can go it alone, either in our personal or spiritual lives.

Women need a sense of community with others. Spiritual discussion groups and Bible study groups help to overcome a sense of isolation and alienation from the culture. They can also learn how other women balance the pressures of work and family.

A few people gathered in his name to pray and discuss spiritual classics gives breathing space for reflection and prayer with like-minded people. This experience creates a cultural support for a serious pursuit of holiness.

Q: At a time when women have moved into the mainstream of public life, are there any special pressures on them to conform to the wider society?

Bork: There is a lot of cultural pressure to be politically correct and therefore to hold popular positions on moral and social issues, such as abortion as a woman's choice and gay marriage as a fundamental right.

Myrna Blythe, former editor of the Ladies' Home Journal, has written a book explaining the pressure she experienced in the New York publishing world to conform to the liberal ideas of her "spin sisters." She, a successful businesswoman, was ostracized from social gatherings and made to feel an outcast for not agreeing with the accepted liberal creed.

Catholic women of faith will find the same social pressures as they advance in professional circles. They to be single-minded in their conviction that they are bringing their values into the workplace with a feminine presence that can make a real difference. In this environment it is possible to grow in virtue on a daily ...

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