In his comments, Pope Francis said, “Faced with the challenges of our globalized world, there is a vital need to recognize the abilities of women to teach values of unity and fraternity which can transform the human family. It is therefore to the benefit of the society that women have a growing presence in social, political and economic life- as well as in the life of the Church- at national and international level.” Pope Francis goes on to say that women’s rights need to be affirmed and protected, even through legal means if necessary. This is a strong statement by Pope Francis because it is reiterating that men and women are equal and they should be treated as equals. The Pope also remarked that women’s role in education is invaluable.
In many cultures and religions women are the centre of the family. In most of the major world religions women are held in great respect but they have also been marginalized and in some instances feared by the patriarchal society in which the religions grew up. Yet in my experience many of the participants in interreligious dialogue are women and it is mostly women who attend places of worship. They have an important role in passing on the faith to their children. Respecting the role of women is essential in moving forward in interfaith dialogue. It is also important to have an understanding of how women contribute to their faiths and engage in dialogue with others. Pope Francis says that “Women and men, through their different roles and institutions, are both called to the task of teaching fraternity and peace. Women who are so intimately connected to the mystery of life, can contribute much through their care of life and their conviction that love is the only power able to make the world more habitable for each one of us.” Women have a central role in interfaith dialogue. Pope Francis emphasizes how a women’s role is intrinsically connected to the mystery of life. This is a great gift when working together in dialogue.
In his closing remarks Pope Francis emphasized the role of women in interreligious dialogue by saying, “In the so-called dialogue of life, where women are often more involved than men, they can help us better understand the challenges of our multicultural societies.” I agree with Pope Francis, and believe that women are often more involved than men in certain areas of life. I believe women are at the forefront of continuing to make interfaith dialogue an important issue. Women’s role in interfaith dialogue can be an example to their own families and communities and make a positive contribution to peace throughout the world.