Pope condemns chauvinism, physical violence, wants respect for women

Pope Francis condemned “verbal and physical violence towards women” and called for “respect” for them at a Mass he was celebrating during his visit to Columbia last week.

Colombia’s mainly Catholic population is known for its macho culture and high levels of gender violence.

During his homily that was repeatedly interrupted by applause, Francis asked the 400,000-strong crowd “How many women, in silence, have persevered alone?

“In communities where we are still weighed down with patriarchal and chauvinistic customs, it is good to note that the Gospel begins by highlighting women who were influential and made history.”

About 20,000 Colombians, most of them women and girls, were victims of rape and sexual violence during the five decade-war that killed 200,000 people.

Sexual violence is a weapon all sides used in Colombia’s war, government data shows.

In addition, women disproportionately have borne the brunt of displacement, with seven million Colombians forced from their homes.

Furthermore, one woman is killed every four days in Colombia, often at the hands of a former or current partner.

Francis urged reconciliation and forgiveness in Colombia.

The United Nations has hailed the 2016 peace accord between the government and rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as “putting an unprecedented focus on women’s rights by recognising how they suffered in the conflict”.

Emphasising his point, Francis incorporated St Joseph into his homily.

“… today, in this world where psychological, verbal and physical violence towards women is so evident, Joseph [husband of Our Lady] is presented as a figure of the respectful and sensitive man.”



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