“The Church is a woman” and if she lacks this identity she becomes “a charity association or a football team;” when “it is a male Church,” it becomes “a Church of old bachelors,” “incapable of love, incapable of fecundity,” said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, on the day dedicated to the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.
The feast is being celebrated this year for the first time, after the publication in March of the decree Ecclesia Mater (“Mother Church”) by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Pope Francis himself decided the feast should be celebrated immediately following Pentecost, in order “to encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”
In his homily, Pope Francis said that in the Gospel, Mary is always described as “the Mother of Jesus,” instead of “the Lady” or “the widow of Joseph”: her motherliness is emphasized throughout the Gospels, beginning with the Annunciation. This is a quality that was noted immediately by the Fathers of the Church, a quality that applies also to the Church.
The Church is feminine, because it is “Church” and “bride” [both grammatically feminine]: it is feminine. And she is mother; she gives life. Bride and Mother. And the Fathers go further and say that even your soul is the bride of Christ and mother.” And it is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church, which, when it is not there, the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, or whatever, but not the Church.
Only a feminine Church will be able to have “fruitful attitudes,” in accordance with the intention of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.”