The Vatican has criticized modern feminists who campaign for absolute gender equality, saying that they are undermining the traditional concept of family.
The Roman Catholic Church released a lengthy message sent to bishops around the world three months ago. The letter, titled On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, written by one of Pope John Paul’s closest advisers, says women should be respected and have equal rights in the workplace, but it advised Catholics to recognize and accept differences between the sexes.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German cleric who heads the Vatican department in charge of preserving and interpreting church doctrine, wrote the letter in May. The pope approved its release Saturday.
The Vatican says the notion that all gender differences must be erased challenges the idea that a family has both a mother and a father, whose roles are different. The church letter says employers must make it possible for women to work outside the home without giving up their family lives.
Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter says Catholics should not consider homosexuality and heterosexuality equally valid lifestyles. It defends and reaffirms the church’s refusal to ordain women priests, but says women nevertheless must have full access “to the heart of Christian life.”