Distinction is not discrimination. By Maestro Aurelio Porfiri

Catholic tradition gives us an example of the lives of many saints who have honoured their Lord.

This also teaches us a great deal in the field of the natural order. I take my inspiration from a fine book by the scholars Lucetta Scaraffia and Margerita Pelaja entitled Two in One Flesh.

In it, in a paragraph entitled The sex of the saints, they say: "First of all, a first difference is that between women and men: for women, in general, it is not so much a question of fleeing temptation as of freeing themselves from the family authority, which does not accept the religious choice of their daughter or wife. For men, on the other hand, it is rather the temptations that constitute an obstacle to the spiritual path, even if they are not all equally strong".

This is really an archetype in the stories of holiness, for women it is usually renouncing marriage to give themselves entirely to God, as in Saint Cecilia, for example; for men it is resisting temptations of a sexual kind, as in Saint Jerome.

If I try to invert the two archetypes, I find it hard to think of men who eschew marriage to give themselves to God, or women who must resist sexual temptation to become saints.

Of course, there are, but the imposition of that archetype mentioned above shows us how sexual identity plays an important role even on the paths of holiness.

Being aware of the 'male and female he created them' is more important than ever in a time when people try to confuse the cards, when in fact masculinity and femininity should be considered a value and one should understand the dynamics at work between the two sexes not as something to condemn, but as something to guide and regulate.

When people think that Christianity intends to diminish the greatness of women, they are making a big mistake, because they do not understand that the most authentic tradition wants a woman to be great as a woman and not as an ugly copy of a man. If we look at the lives of so many saints, we can see how great they were precisely by exalting their own feminine personality.

The Church does not intend to suppress this personality but to ensure that it is authentically itself, whether it is directed wholly to God or remains engaged in the cares of the world.

You may have heard a compliment to some women with particularly attractive personalities, 'she is a great woman'. It means that in the perception of the beholder, they have exalted their femininity to a supreme level. And the same applies to great men.

In short, difference means distinction and not discrimination, as some try to claim.

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Aurelio Porfiri, Ftcl Music composition (Trinity College, London)
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Honorary Master and Organist for the Church of Santa Maria dell'Orto (Rome, Italy)
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No Female Priest : distinction not discrimination
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