Today’s International Women’s Day 2022 occurs in the midst of the ongoing war in Ukraine, where hundreds of thousands of women have been forced to flee their homes.
This year’s International Women’s Day this year cannot fail to recognize the courage, the strength, the ordeal endured in Ukraine, where women are forced to leave their homes to protect their children. Women who pray. Women who decide to stand by their husbands to resist the advancing tanks and exploding rockets. Women breastfeeding in the rubble and under mortar fire, women taking part in rescue efforts, preparing food, giving birth to life, to new hope, waiting hours at the borders. Women driving cars and trucks, because the country is under attack. Women on the march with the few things they have been able to gather, in the cold and snow. Women who lose their lives, who are raped, children struck by bombs and bullets. Who can accept all this horror?
Outside Ukraine, other women are collecting aid, working in politics or in diplomatic circles to find solutions, protesting in the streets, being arrested and beaten. Women: daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, friends, building societies, sustaining economies, bringing education and creativity, guarding creation, protecting humanity. Imprisoned women.
“To hurt a woman is to insult God,” Pope Francis said, on January 1 of this year, when the shadows of war in Europe were still unseen but were advancing silently, as were the abuses, the violence, against women around the world. Victims, too often in silence, of psychological and physical violence, girls forced into arranged marriages, forced to prostitute themselves, to work, to not study; women who are themselves killed or who see their children die in war. Who can remain silent about such abominations? Women in the everyday world, offering support, helping and guiding, everyday heroism when even what is ordinary means destruction. Women who, in every part of the world, oppose the logic of separation and enmity, who work for unity.
In the history of the Church there are many women Saints, beacons who bring the saving light of Christ to their own times, and today to a Europe wounded by injustice and horror. Patron of Europe, protectors of this continent, like St Bridget, St Hildegard of Bingen, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and St Catherine of Siena.
In these hours we entrust ourselves to Mary, the Mother of God, that all violence in Ukraine and in the world may come to an end, and every man and woman may live in peace.