JOHN PAUL II
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, 26 February 1995
Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
Among the women who have served the cause of peace, I wish today to remember a “martyr” of our century, that I myself, in 1987, had the joy of raising to the honors of the altars: the Carmelite Edith Stein.
Like many other victims of Nazi savagery, she was killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp. For her, being of Jewish origin and educated according to the traditions of her parents, the choice of the Gospel, which came after painstaking research, did not mean the rejection of her cultural and religious roots. Christ, known in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila, helped her to read the history of her people more deeply. With her gaze fixed on the Redeemer, she learned the wisdom of the Cross, which made her capable of new solidarity with the sufferings of her sisters and brothers.
Uniting herself to the pain of God made man, offering her life for her people became her great aspiration. She faced deportation and the prospect of “martyrdom” with the intimate awareness of going to “die for her people”. Her sacrifice is a cry for, and a service to peace.
Edith Stein was also exemplary for the contribution she made to the promotion of women. I wrote in the Message for the World Day of Peace that the building of this fundamental value “cannot ignore the recognition and promotion of the personal dignity of women” (No. 4). Edith Stein played a significant role in this, dedicating herself for a long time, in the years that preceded her withdrawal to the monastery, to initiatives aimed at ensuring that women are recognized the rights of every human being and those specific to femininity. Speaking of women, she gladly emphasized her vocation as “bride and mother”, but together with this Edith exalted the role to which women are called in all areas of cultural and social life. She herself witnessed this socially active femininity, making herself appreciated as a researcher, lecturer, teacher. She was also esteemed as a woman of thought, able to use with wise discernment the contributions of contemporary philosophy to seek the “full truth of things”, in the constant effort to combine the needs of reason and those of faith.
To the Blessed Virgin we desire today particularly to entrust the harmony and peace among the believers of the different religions: God is love, and by his nature unites and does not divide those who believe in him. Above all, Jews and Christians cannot forget their unique fraternity, which is rooted in God’s providential plan that accompanies their history.
Mary, Daughter of Sion and Mother of the Church, pray for us!