An article in the Catholic Times reports on the recent meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture at which meeting one of the Korean bishops participated. The article gives us an insight into what transpired. The meeting reflected on women's culture and the place of women in society.
Women's generativity, and particular values need to be understood and made
known. The women's movement is part of the
Christian cultural movement. Bishop Lee reminds us that women's
values have to be respected and become part of our culture and movement
for life, and inculturated in our theology.
The subject matter can be divided into 4 brief statements:
1) Between equality and difference-- the quest for an equilibrium.
2) "Generativity" as a symbolic code.
3) The female body:between culture and biology.
4) Women and religion: flight or new forms of participation in the life of the Church?
Bishop Lee mentioned that in the meeting, the generativity of women was
considered symbolically; they divided it into four moments: desiring,
bringing into the world, looking after, and finally letting go. Women
have a great deal to do with this generativity but it is not only the
woman's work but also the man's: both in the beginning
and end of the generative process.
One of the big obstacles to this generativity is the materialism of our life style.
Another social evil is the commodification of the women's body: plastic surgery, so prevalent in society, is a good example.
bishop mentioned at the meeting the exaggerated importance of appearance, and the
need to address this in our moral teaching and education. The bishop reported the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery says Korea is the Cosmetic Capital of the world. The
percentage of citizens with cosmetic surgery are the highest in the world. “Plastic
surgery is like a burqa made of flesh.” These are the words, one person used to describe the cosmetic surgery being performed on women.
Young people don't even know why they are having the surgery; they
are moved by the positive popular feeling about the procedure. Even pastors have nothing to say about the surgery. "The body
expresses the being of a person, more than an aesthetic dimension
closed in on itself; how can we avoid a purely functional approach to
women and their bodies (seductive, commercialization, marketing)?"
"Women and men in their personhood are equal but have different values. These values should
be at the center of the women's culture and we need to understand them.
Men and women complement each other and this should
be made known in our programs within and outside the church."