Mulieris dignitatem

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Mulieris dignitatem[pronunciation?] is an apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II on the dignity of women, published on 15 August 1988. The letter advocates Christian complementarianism, a view of the complementary roles of men and women in line with the philosophy of new feminism.


It cites the recent Marian year (1987), the Church as bride of Christ, and the role of women in the Bible as the first witnesses to the Resurrection as proof that Christianity values women, men, and all members of the community. It also mentions the importance of traditional roles of women, such as mother, teacher, and daughter in contemporary society.

The document refers to several female saints, including Monica, Macrina, Olga of Kiev, Matilda of Tuscany, Hedwig of Silesia, Jadwiga of Poland, Elizabeth of Hungary, Bridget of Sweden, Joan of Arc, Rose of Lima, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the Venerable Mary Ward (who is not yet canonized).

The letter also defends the doctrine of the all-male priesthood:

In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behaviour, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time.[1]

In 1995 John Paul wrote another text on women (whom he respected), a pastoral entitled Letter to Women.


  1. ^ MD 26.

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