Papal Letters Are Complementarian -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 01:2 (Nov 1995)
Article: Papal Letters Are Complementarian
Author: Anonymous

Papal Letters Are Complementarian

Pope John Paul II, in recent letters to the church concerning women, has made several clearly complementarian statements. While there are significant theological differences between evangelicals and Roman Catholics, we rejoice in and affirm much of the stance that the pontiff has taken in these documents.

In January, 1995, in a papal letter entitled “Women as Teachers of Peace,” the pope reaffirmed the creation order and differences between men and women.

“Indeed, from the very first pages of the Bible God’s plan is marvelously expressed: He willed that there should be a relationship of profound communion between man and woman, in a perfect reciprocity of knowledge and of the giving of self. In woman, man finds a partner with whom he can dialogue in complete equality. This desire for dialogue which was not satisfied by any other living creature, explains the man’s spontaneous cry of wonder when the woman, according to the evocative symbolism of the Bible, was created form one of his ribs: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gn. 2:23). This was the first cry of love to resound on the earth!

“Even though man and woman are made for each other, this does not mean that God created them incomplete. God “created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be a ‘helpmate’ to the other, for they are equal as persons (‘bone of my bones’) and complementary as masculine and feminine.” Reciprocity and complementarity are the two fundamental characteristics of the human couple.

“Sadly, a long history of sin has disturbed and continues to disturb God’s original plan for the couple, for the male and the female, thus standing in the way of its complete fulfillment. We need to return to this plan, to proclaim it forcefully, so that women in particular—who have suffered more from its failure to be fulfilled—can finally give full expression to their womanhood and their dignity.”

Again, this past summer, in anticipation of the Beijing World Conference on Women, the Vatican distributed a papal letter to the women of the world in which the pope reaffirmed his opposition to the ordination of women, reaffirmed the complementarity of the sexes as male and female, and expressed sorrow over the way in which women have been regarded through the years.

He wrote that:

“From the very beginning, man has been created “male and female” (Gn 1:27).… Men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the “human” as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way.

“…In their fruitful relationship as husband and wife, in their common...

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