Pope Francis on Friday said women suffer from a throwaway culture, and Jesus “changed history” by ending women’s second-class status in society.
Speaking during his morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae – which featured the Gospel account of Jesus speaking about “committing adultery in your heart” – Francis said Jesus’ words about women acknowledged their equality with men, when before they were little more than “slaves” that did not “even have complete freedom.”
“Jesus’ doctrine about women changes history. Before Jesus the view about women was one thing but after Jesus they are another,” Francis said, according to Vatican News, a service of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication.
“Jesus dignifies women and puts them on the same level as men because he takes that first word of the Creator, both are ‘the image and likeness of God,’ both of them; not first the man and then a little lower down the woman, no, both are. And a man without a woman beside him – whether as a mother, as a sister, as a bride, as a working companion, as a friend – that man by himself is not the image of God,” the pope continued.
However, Francis pointed out that women are still objectified in today’s world, and images used in advertising often “humiliated” women or featured them “wearing no clothes.”
He said women were victims of a “disposable mentality,” not just in “far away places,” but all around us.
“This is a sin against God the Creator, rejecting women because without her we men cannot be the image and likeness of God. There is an anger and resentment against women, an evil anger,” the pontiff said.
“Even without saying it… But how many times do young women have to sell themselves as disposable objects in order to get a job? How many times? ‘Yes, Father, I heard in that country…’ Here in Rome. There’s no need to go far away,” Francis continued.
“All this happens here in Rome, it happens in every city, anonymous women, women – we can describe as ‘faceless’ because shame covers their faces, women who do not know how to laugh and many of them do not know the joy of breastfeeding their baby and the experience of being a mother,” the pope said.
Francis spoke about women being sexually exploited – used and sold as if they are in a market. He said this happens in neighborhoods even in Rome.
“But, even in our everyday life, without going to those places, there is this ugly way of thinking, of rejecting women or seeing her as a ‘second class’ person. We need to reflect more deeply about this. And by doing this or saying this, by entering into this way of thinking, we despise the image of God, who made man and woman together with his image and likeness,” the pope said.
“This Gospel reading helps us to think about the marketing of women, a trade, yes, trafficking, that exploitation which is visible but also that trade which we can’t see but is taking place out of sight. A woman is trampled underfoot precisely because she is a woman,” he said.
The pope reminded his listeners that Jesus encountered many women – despised, marginalized, cast aside – and showed them great tenderness that restored their dignity, and had “many female friends who followed him to help him in his ministry…and provide support.”