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The Virgin Mary and the Culture of Life

When The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae) was released in 1995, John Paul’s repeated references to the emergence of a “Culture of Death” received a great deal of attention. The Media, in particular, given its propensity for regarding “bad news” as “good news,” assigned the “Culture of Death” a prominence that all but overshadowed the Holy Father’s deeper and more important references to developing a “Culture of Life.” It is not enough, said the Pope, to refrain from abortion, euthanasia, and other “crimes against life.” We must work together in various spheres—including the political sphere (1)—as witnesses to the sanctity of life. “To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good.” (2)

The Media, as is well known, is fond of presenting the Church as always being against something, and therefore casting her in a negative light. Yet, the main theme of The Gospel of Life, as is sufficiently evident in its title, is not “The Culture of Death,” but “The Gospel of Life.” Accordingly, John Paul reminds us, on the encyclical’s very first page, of the redemptive implications contained in Jesus’ words: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10).

The essential message of The Gospel of Life, because of its broad, humanitarian basis, is presented to all citizens of the world. And the Pope is unsparing of the “tyrant state, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members, from the unborn child to the elderly.” (3) The State, however, does not take kindly to such stinging criticism. Nor do certain critics of the left who believe the Pope to be more tyrannical than any State that consigns its children in the womb and its elderly to premature death. Hans Küng, for example, stated at a press conference that The Gospel of Life demonstrated the Holy Father’s “dogmatic coldness and unrelenting rigorism,” and that “the voice in the document is not that of a good shepherd but of a spiritual dictator.” (4) Nonetheless, as political philosopher Robert P. George of Princeton University states: “People of good will—of whatever religious faith—who are prepared to consider seriously the Pope’s teaching in Evangelium Vitae cannot now avoid asking themselves, soberly and unblinkingly, whether our regime is becoming the democratic ‘tyrant state’ about which he warns.” (5)

Newsweek’s religion editor, Kenneth Woodward, was in greater agreement with Professor George in his evaluation of the document than he was with Father Küng. He praised The Gospel of Life as “the clearest, most impassioned and most commanding encyclical” of John Paul II’s pontificate, one that would be the Pontiff’s “signature statement” in history. (6)

The Theology of the Body

Delivering the Church’s “Culture of Life” message so that it is received in an undiluted and undistorted manner to a skeptical and cynical society is problematic. One way, which has always been close to the Church’s heart as well as to the hearts of her people, is by means of an appeal to the dignity and value of motherhood, especially through the woman who embodies its perfection, Mary. For Mary, as Coventry Patmore reminds, in his simple but eloquent phrase, is “Our only Saviour from an abstract Christ.” (7) Christ is bodily because He was conceived, carried to term, and given birth through a woman’s body. And even after birth, she continued to be a mother in all its bodily significance, for, as St. Augustine has pointed out, “she gave milk to our Bread.” (8) Motherhood has a moral immediacy and palpable reality that people of good will are not likely to turn aside. Motherhood is a compelling moral witness to the primacy of loving unselfishness.

The great American novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne, though not formally a Catholic, reflected this bodily significance of Mary’s motherhood when he wrote: “I have always envied the Catholics that sweet, sacred Virgin Mother who stands between them and the Deity, intercepting somewhat His awful splendor, but permitting His love to stream on the worshipper more intelligibly to human comprehension through the medium of a woman’s tenderness.” (9)

Mary’s fiat, her consent to be the Mother of God, embraces her bodily as well as spiritual realities. Indeed, bodily and spiritual realities that converge and are unified in her virgin motherhood. Moreover, “this mother’s body,” as Hans Urs von Balthasar writes, “which was already (in the overshadowing of the spirit) a bride’s body, is proleptically the church body which and for which everything will be formed unto Christ, which will later be called church.” (10) Mary’s bodily motherhood prefigures the body of the Church. At the same time, she exercises a “spiritual motherhood with regard to all people.” (11)

Throughout the 130 presentations that constitute John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, we find an unremitting emphasis on the existential fact that men and women have different bodies and that the body, with its masculine/feminine polarity, is not a mere “attribute” of the person, but an integral feature of his whole being. The body is something that a human being is. (12)

Denigration of the Body

This bodily notion of the human person needs to be reiterated again and again in the contemporary world since its trivialization and even denial is an important ingredient in the formation of the Culture of Death. A woman’s body, according to leading secular feminists, is either a mere “instrument” or something of little or no ontological significance. Thus, Regula Giuliani, following the thought of Simone de Beauvoir, views men’s and women’s bodies as transitional: “The body has become … an inert object imprisoned by material, a mere instrument and tool that serves to realize mental desires more (with a male body) or less (with a female body) adequately.” (13) Shulamith Firestone goes further, arguing that we must eradicate the natural basis for the male-female distinction. In her work, The Dialectic of Sex, which she dedicated to Simone de Beauvoir, Firestone writes: “Humanity has begun to outgrow nature: we can no longer justify the maintenance of a discriminatory sex class system on grounds of its origins in Nature. Indeed, for pragmatic reasons alone it is beginning to look as if we must get rid of it.” (14)

According to feminist author Julia Kristeva, there is no such thing as a real woman, even though the term “woman” does have political utility: “Woman is a valid concept politically, but not philosophically. There are still many goals which women can achieve: freedom of abortion and contraception, daycare for children, equality on the job, etc. Therefore we must use ‘we are women’ as an advertisement or slogan for our demands. On a deeper level, however, a woman cannot ‘be’.” (15) For Kristeva, a woman has no nature (physis), only a name (nomos) and that for purely political (and obviously deceptive) purposes. (16)

Finally, Andrea Stumpf, writing for the Yale Law Review, proposes that motherhood be reduced to an abstraction. In the case of “surrogate motherhood” where one woman carries a child for an infertile woman, a number of legal disputes have arisen about whether the mere act of gestating a child provides a sufficient basis for a claim of motherhood. Stumpf argues that we need a new legal definition of motherhood that recognizes “mental conception” as having a superior claim to motherhood than mere “biological conception.” Accordingly, she writes: “The psychological dimension of procreation precedes and transcends the biology of procreation.” (17) Therefore, according to Stumpf, motherhood is fundamentally in the mind: “Prior to physical conception of a child, the beginnings of a normal parent-child relationship can come from a mental conception, the desire to create a child.” (18) Ironically, in her proposal for a new legal definition of motherhood, Stumpf makes no distinction between motherhood and fatherhood (since the male parent can have the “mental conception” first). By de-biologizing motherhood, even a child, presumably, could fulfill Stumpf’s proposed definition of motherhood.

In contrast to Stumpf’s abstract notion of motherhood, is Gerard Manley Hopkins’ decisively natural and incarnate view of Mary’s Motherhood, taken from two of his poems:

All things rising, all things sizing

Mary sees, sympathizing

With that world of good,

Nature’s motherhood. (19)

If I have understood

She holds high motherhood

Towards all our ghostly good

And plays in grace her part

About man’s beating heart. (20)

The Culture of Life

There is a direct connection between disparaging the body and the Culture of Death. If biology is “tyranny” (or something we must be rid of) as so many secular feminists claim, then contraception, sterilization, abortion, and the eradication of corporeal pain through euthanasia are nothing more than forms of liberation from the body. Christ came to liberate us from sin. But secular feminists seek to liberate women from the tyranny of their biology so that they can live as they desire without being impeded by their body. Simone de Beauvoir, generally regarded as the intellectual matriarch of contemporary feminism, has challenged all women to rise above the “animal” act of giving life so they can involve themselves in the superior masculine act of risking life.

In this way, for de Beauvoir, women will transcend the sphere of nature and enter into the more elevated human sphere:

The worst curse that was laid upon woman was that she should be excluded from those warlike forays. For it is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal; that is why superiority has been accorded in humanity not to the sex that brings forth but to that which kills. (21)

The Culture of Death begins with a negation of some essential element of human life—God, spirituality, reason, nature, the body—and thereby fractionalizes the human being. Thus fractionalized, he wars against the very elements he has negated. In this way, secular feminism wars against the woman’s body and everything it directly implies. But it leaves them amputated, so to speak, and not well disposed to recognize the inherent appeal of a Culture of Life.

By contrast, Mary is whole and blessed in uniting herself with God both bodily and spiritually. The Culture of Life, therefore, begins with an affirmation, a fiat: “Be it done unto me according to thy word.” There are three great flats: “Let there be light” at the commencement of creation; “Let there be love,” preceding the Passion in the Garden of Olives; and “Let there be life,” in response to the Annunciation. Light, Life, and Love also represent the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Mary is the link between divine life and human life. She is the beginning of the Culture of Life.

In his splendid commentary on John Paul’s Theology of the Body, Christopher West speaks of the special living-giving role that Mary has as the model of the Church and as the archetype of humanity:

She is the one who in this life was impregnated with divine life! She is the one who in this life allowed her entire person—body and soul—to be permeated by the Holy Spirit. Hence, she is our eschatological hope. For in her, the redemption of the body is already brought to completion. (22)

Mary’s fiat inaugurates the Culture of Life. If we look at three mysteries in particular—the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Nativity—we can see how Mary offers us three powerful, yet distinct affirmations and exemplifications of the Culture of Life, and how they sharply contrast with their corresponding negations of life that characterize the Culture of Death. Yet, the life-connoting message of the Annunciation, Visitation and Nativity are commonly negated by contraception, abortion, and their logical extension in the form of “wrongful birth.” In fact, these three negations can be found in the same person.

The Culture of Death

On September 25, 2002, the Zenit international news service reported from Rome that a Venetian court ordered a gynecologist to pay for the food and maintenance of a child until he comes of age because his birth was due to a mishap in his mother’s sterilization procedure. This case, involving the curious notion of “wrongful birth,” illustrates three distinct choices against the life of the same human being. Initially, sterilization was used to prevent his conception. When that procedure failed, the woman’s doctor recommended an abortion to end his life. Finally, when the child was born, his mother sued her doctor because she did not think that she was obliged to raise the child. The Venice Tribunal ordered the doctor to pay just over $98,000 U.S. for the child’s upkeep.

In our time, the notion of “freedom of choice” is, more often than not, associated with a rejection of life. Sterilization (including contraception), abortion, and wrongful birth have become accepted in the secular world as legal and legitimate choices. The prevailing view is that a woman is not free unless she is free to oppose and even assault the very life that may and does emanate from her own flesh. This popular notion of “reproductive freedom” is viewed as a freedom from any love that might guide a woman’s choice and any good that is the natural object of a loving will. It is essentially a negative freedom since its main concern is to be severed from both a loving act and a good object. In this regard, it is a false freedom, one that diminishes rather than fulfills a person. When St. Paul said, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17), he was explaining that true freedom cannot exist in isolation and that the “spirit of the Lord,” which places freedom in a context of love and goodness, ensures that freedom is consistent with the wholeness (and ultimately the holiness) of the person.


In Love & Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla made the point that “man longs for love more than for freedom—freedom is the means and love is the end.” Consequently, “Freedom exists for the sake of love. If freedom is not used, is not taken advantage of by love it becomes a negative thing and gives human beings a feeling of emptiness and unfulfillment.” (23)

Freedom without love can lead to boredom, mischief, or desperation. Freedom cries out for love in order to give it direction, purpose, and fulfillment. When a loved one dies, we mourn the loss of the beloved. We do not rejoice in our newly attained freedom. Freedom, in its best expression, is bound. We do not want to be unbound from people we love. Freedom is the opening of the door, but love is the dwelling place inside. And this is why human beings desire love more than they desire freedom.

No one ever conceived a child more freely and more instantly than did Mary. A woman may yearn for a child. But she must wait upon nature and her unpredictable processes. Only Mary could conceive a child through an act of freedom. Her fiat alone was instantly met with her conception of Christ. By uniting her will with the Divine Will, she became the Mother of God. Her freedom and her motherhood, therefore, are inseparable.

Mary’s “yes” overturns Eve’s “no.” As St. Irenaeus has said, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” (24)

In one sense, it is easier to say “no” to love because of the weighty and worrisome responsibilities it brings in its train. A firm “no” appears to spare a person from any entanglements that would compromise his freedom. Yet “no” leaves one unfulfilled. The separation that “no” implies can never unite us with what we need. We must sooner or later say “yes” to something or someone. Mary’s “yes” to become the Mother of God is an extraordinary act of freedom, but one that is supported by faith, humility, courage, fidelity and love. Mary’s freedom springs from a rich and grace-filled personality. It is a freedom that is the flower of her virtue and the fulfillment of God’s pledge to mankind. Mary’s fiat is the culminating “yes” to a long concatenation of “yeses” that prepared for and preceded it.

We express our gratitude to Mary for freely permitting our Savior to come into the world by our own countless “Thy will be dones” that we recite daily in the Lord’s Prayer. These modest fiats lead to their own little incarnations. To say “yes” to God is to live by faith, hope and charity. By accepting Mary as our mother and spiritual role model, we re-enact in our own particular way, the mysteries of the Annunciation, Visitation and Nativity.

The Annunciation

Mary the Mother of God is of paramount moral significance in today’s wayward world. She represents freedom that is perfectly integrated with love and goodness. Her witness, through the Mysteries of the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity are a powerful repudiation of the Culture of Death’s besetting negativities of contraception, abortion and wrongful birth (and, by extension, the various nuances of wrongful, burdensome, or meaningless life that provide the basis for rationalizing euthanasia for the sick and for the elderly).

The Annunciation is the antithesis of contraception and sterilization. Mary is open to conceiving Jesus. Contraception and sterilization are closed to new life. Mary is open to the Word, both spiritually and maternally. When the angel Gabriel made God’s plan evident to Mary that she conceive Christ, “she uttered words,” to borrow those of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, “which are the greatest pledge of liberty and the greatest charter of freedom the world has ever heard: ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word.'” (25) Similarly, psychiatrist Karl Stern has said of Mary, “the stillness in the nod of assent was equaled in freedom only by the original freedom of the creative act.” (26) “Thy will be done” is the human fiat that complements the fiat of creation.

The highest freedom, epoch-making freedom, is not unfettered freedom. It is freedom that is directed by love to that which is good. It is freedom that serves life.

The Annunciation is also an Invitation and an Acceptance. It is the perfect concordance between Divine and human wills. But a concordance that bears fruit and renews the face of the earth. Through Mary’s Acceptance, God and mankind are less estranged from each other. Mary’s children are destined to love their divine Father more intimately. A new covenant is established, through Mary, between God and man.

The Visitation

The Visitation is the account of a moment in the ongoing pregnancies of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. When Mary entered the home of Elizabeth, she offered her a greeting. No sooner had Elizabeth heard Mary’s words, than she declared, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord?” At that moment, her own child in the womb, John the Baptist, “leaped for joy” (Luke 1:39-45).

This moment represents the reciprocal affirmations of two pregnancies and their correlative two children in the womb. It is a moment of joy. It is a midpoint in time between conception and birth. Elizabeth was “advanced in years.” Her conception proved that nothing is impossible with God. Mary’s conception occurred without a man. Both conceptions were extraordinary, one despite advanced age, the other despite the absence of a biological father. After such extraordinary conceptions, the periods of gestation were occasions of great rejoicing as well as high expectation.

The Nativity

The Nativity is the fulfillment of Mary’s pregnancy. From the standpoint of Herod, it was indeed a “wrongful birth” and, therefore, the Holy Family needed to flee to Egypt in order to escape his sword. It was never a “wrongful birth” for Mary despite Simeon’s prophecy at the Purification that her heart would be pierced by a sword, and her son’s Passion to which she was a witness at the foot of the cross. Christmas brings a Savior into the world and with Him, redemption and joy to all men of good will. Has anyone ever been more wrong about anything than Herod was about Jesus?

The Annunciation, the Visitation and the Nativity, then, are moments when Mary illustrates her threefold acceptance of life. She conceives life freely through her fiat; she rejoices as the child in her womb continues to develop; she exults in the birth of her child on Christmas. Yet her fiat has eternal significance, for motherhood is indissoluble.

The Personal Unity of the Mother

John Paul II, aware of the various negations of the different stages of motherhood that abound in the contemporary world, carefully explained, drawing from his Personalism and from his Theology of the Body, that motherhood subsumes and integrates all of its different facets into one unified person.

In his Apostolic Letter, On the Dignity of Women (Mulieris Dignitatem), he alludes to detailed scientific analyses that attest to the fact that “the very physical constitution of women is naturally disposed to motherhood—conception, pregnancy and giving birth.” (27) This means that there is a profound harmony in women between the biophysiological and psychological processes involved in motherhood. In the biophysiological sense, motherhood appears to be passive. But in the conception and development of new life these biophysiological processes are deeply and naturally intertwined with motherhood in its “personal-ethical” (28) sense and involves a most important creativity on the part of women. It is not the case that any of the biophysiological stages are contrary to the “woman-as-person.” Rather, motherhood, in all its stages, is profoundly linked to the personal structure of the woman.

Moreover, it is linked in this way to her personal dimension of a gift. In the light of this, a woman discovers herself as a mother through a sincere gift of herself.

In reading through secular feminist literature, one finds many references to a Cartesian bifurcation of the woman into the spiritual mode and the bodily mode. The former is identified as constituting the woman herself, whereas the latter is regarded as an enemy to her personal liberty, and to her identity as a human being.

Jeffner Allen, to take but one salient example of this curious bifurcation, sees motherhood as the “annihilation” of women: “Children come from patriarchal sexuality’s use of woman’s body as a resource to reproduce men and the world of men.” (29) A woman’s escape from the tyranny of men comes through “evacuation”: “I am endangered by motherhood. In evacuation from motherhood, I claim my life, body, world, as an end in itself.” (30) Allen seems forgetful of the fact that she owes her existence to her mother’s motherhood, which was decidedly not used simply “to reproduce men.” This is not a philosophy that could survive for more than one generation.

The Word of God

Mary is blessed, as von Balthasar states, by “hearing the word of God and keeping it” (Luke 11:28; 2:19-51), in the Johannine sense of “abiding” in it. (31) In a parallel sense, she conceives the Word of God, cultivates it, and brings it out into the world to share with others. She invites us to do the same, that is, to hear, cultivate, and express the Word of God. She, as Mother of God, urges all of us to be mothers of the Word.

In Raniero Cantalamessa’s study of Mary, Mary: Mirror of the Church, the preacher to the Papal household writes about how we can all become “mothers of Christ.” (32) He explains that this can come about “by hearing the Word and by practicing it.” (33) We hear and accept the Word (The Annunciation and conception); we nurture and cultivate the Word (The Visitation and gestation); and we deliver the Word and put it into practice (The Nativity and birth).

Cantalamessa goes on to describe two forms of “unfulfilled maternities.” In the first case, a woman suffers a miscarriage or has an abortion. The woman conceives life but her maternity remains unfulfilled because she does not deliver the life she conceived. In the second instance, a woman carries a child to term, but, because of in vitro fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer, or some other similar technique in which the zygote is formed outside the mother’s body, she delivers a child that she did not conceive. Mary’s maternity is fulfilled on each account since she both conceived and gave birth to Jesus (significantly, the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, is nine months prior to Christmas).

We are, all of us, men as well as women, called to experience both types of maternity on a spiritual level. Unfortunately, some hear the Word but do not give birth to it in practice. Such people have one “spiritual abortion” after another. They have faith without good works. For them, the Gospel, at best, is merely interesting reading. Then, there are those who do many good works without having conceived Christ. Such good works, however, may be tinged with hypocrisy or seeking one’s own glory. In such instances, one has good works without faith.

The model that Mary provides of fulfilled maternity in both the bodily and spiritual senses is one that serves as the basis for the Culture of Life. It is a model that is reaffirmed by the words of St. Paul:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8-10).

Motherhood as a Model for Life

That Mary’s motherhood is the preeminent model for life has a natural and logical appeal. “Motherhood, on the human plane,” writes Louis Bouyer, “is, evidently, the personal relationship which can reach the most eminent dignity and value of all.” (34) Yet the beauty and creativity of motherhood does not derive from itself as a sovereign and self-sufficient principle. The mother does not convey to her child the material of her own being, but shares, equally with the father, in determining the unique nature of that being, assisting in his becoming. Motherhood is not a first principle or one that operates independently of the father. While Mary’s motherhood is a model for life, its own reality and inception depends on a creative receptivity to God the Father. This willingness to be open to the Father requires a humility that is neither commonplace nor greatly prized in a post-modern world where self-sufficiency and radical autonomy have become ideals. Nonetheless, Mary’s humble renunciation of autonomy is an essential pre-condition for her maternity.

Those who would participate effectively in establishing a Culture of Life are wise to follow Mary’s humility. Only then can they begin to appreciate her maternity and how they can be fruitful by imitating it in their own individual and unique ways.

Against humility and maternity stand pride and the illusion of self-sufficiency. But the latter modes, because of their inherent and extreme negativity, are essentially sterile. Thus, they form the cornerstone of a Culture of Death.

The lofty example of unselfish, loving maternity will mean little to men if it means nothing to women. If maternity is merely a “choice,” placing it on a moral par with sterility, abortion, and wrongful birth, then maternity loses its transcendent value and ceases to be a model. And in a world without moral models, without moral directives, everyone is lost.

Fulfillment Through Surrender

St. Edith Stein argues that “the fallen and perverted feminine nature” can be restored to purity and health only through a surrender to God. Paradoxically, it is through this “surrender” that a woman achieves her fulfillment both as a woman and as a human being. It is not her destiny to isolate herself from others and live only for herself. Elisabeth Badinter’s injunction to all women that they absolutize their egos is a formula for moral suicide. (35) Speaking to all women, St. Edith writes:

Whether she lives as a mother in her home, in the limelight of public life or behind the silent walls of a convent, she must everywhere be a “handmaid of the Lord,” as the Mother of God had been in all the circumstances of her life, whether she was living as a virgin in the sacred precincts of the Temple, silently kept house at Bethlehem and Nazareth, or guided the apostles and the first Christian community after the death of her Son. If every woman were an image of the Mother of God, a spouse of Christ and an apostle of the divine Heart, she would fulfill her feminine vocation no matter in what circumstances she lived and what her external activities might be. (36)

In his concluding words of the Second Vatican Council, Wojtyla made the urgent appeal to women that they “Reconcile people with life.” (37) As Pope John II, in Mulieris Dignitatem, he spoke of their unique capacity to achieve this reconciliation:

Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life and “understands” with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the “beginning,” the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality. (38)

At the close of The Gospel of Life, John Paul, as he did so often in ending encyclicals, referred to Mary as the “bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living,” and one to whom “we entrust the cause of life.” (39) His tribute is most fitting. Mary, indeed, is the model and mother of that new “springtime” of the Church that is also a Culture of Life and a Culture of Love. It will come to pass when we cooperate with our model in receiving, cultivating, and giving birth to the Word of God that gently knocks at the door of our hearts.

Donald DeMarco, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, and a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has written many books and articles on the subject of the Theology of the Body, including, with Benjamin Wiker, Architects of the Culture of Death. This article was originally published in The Virgin Mary and Theology of the Body, ed. Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, Marian Press, 2005.


(1) John Paul II, The Gospel of Life (Sherbrooke, QC: Mediaspaul, 1995), §101, 181: ‘There can be no true democracy without a recognition of every person’s dignity and without respect for his or her rights. Nor can there be true peace unless life is defended and promoted.”

(2) Ibid., 180.

(3) Ibid., §20, 36.

(4) Quoted in The Tablet, April 8, 1996, 467.

(5) Robert P. George, The Clash of Orthodoxies (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2001), 135.

(6) Cited in ibid.

(7) Coventry Patmore, “The Child’s Purchase” in The Poems of Coventry Patmore. Ed. Frederick Page. (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), 442.

(8) St. Aurelius Augustinus, Sermons, 184.

(9) Cited in Fulton J. Sheen The Worlds First Love (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961), 197.

(10) Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Mary—Exemplar of the Church,” trans. R. J. Daly and F. Lawrence (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1982), 219.

(11) John Paul II, U.S.A.—Message of Justice, Peace and Love (Boston, MA: Daughter of St. Paul, 1979), 242.

(12) John Paul II, The Theology of the Body (Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media, 1997), 49.

(13) Regula Giuliani, “Der über gangene Leib,” Phänomenologische Forchungen, n.s., 2(1997): 110.

(14) Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1971), 10.

(15) New French Feminisms, ed. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivran (New York, NY: Schocken Books, 1981), 157.

(16) See David Vincent Meconi, “Theology of the Body and Purity of Heart,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, April 2001.

(17) Andrea E. Stumpf, “Redefining Motherhood: A Legal Matrix for New Reproductive Technologies,” Yale Law Review (Nov. 1986), 194.

(18) Ibid., 195

(19) Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The May Magnificat,” ed. John Pick, A Hopkins Reader (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966), 70.

(20) Ibid., ‘The Blessed Virgin Compared To The Air We Breathe,” 71-72.

(21) Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. H. M. Parshley (New York, NY: Bantam, 1968), xxviii.

(22) Christopher West, Theology of the Body Explained: A Commentary on John Paul II’s “Gospel of the Body”(Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media, 2003), 252.

(23) Karol Wojtyla, Love & Responsibility, trans. H. T. Willetts (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 1981), 135-136.

(24) St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 22, 4: PG 7/1, 959A.

(25) Sheen, The Worlds First Love, 26.

(26) Karl Stern, The Flight From Woman (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1965), 274.

(27) John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, (August 15, 1988), 18.

(28) Ibid.

(29) Jeffner Allen, “Motherhood: The Annihilation of Women,” ed. Marilyn Pearsall, Women and Values: Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1986), 92. See also, Ellen Peck, The Baby Trap (New York, NY: B. Geis associates, 1971): “I married a lovely, sexy girl—then she turned into someone’s mother” (Dust jacket).

(30) Ibid.

(31) Balthasar, Mary—Exemplar of the Church, 219.

(32) Raniero Cantalamessa, Mary: Mirror of the Church, trans. Frances Lonergan Villa (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992), 70.

(33) Ibid.

(34) Louis Bouyer, The Seat of Wisdom, trans. A. V. Littledale (Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Co., 1960), 148.

(35) Elisabeth Badinter, Man/Woman: The One Is the Other, trans. Barbara Wright (London, GB: Collins Harville, 1989), 194-195: “Self-love has become a code of ethics. The categorical imperative no longer sets out the conditions of the relationship between Ego and Other People, but those of my relationship with myself … We are obliged to recognize that intersubjective relations are losing their value.”

(36) Edith Stein, Writings of Edith Stein, trans. Hilda Graef (London, GB: Peter Owen, Ltd., 1956), 110-125; 161-173.

(37) Closing Messages of the Council (December 8, 1965): “To Women.”

(38) John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem (August 15, 1988), 18: AAS 80 (1988), 1696.

(39) The Gospel of Life, 188.

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