The Feminist and the Pontiff Have a Short Dialogue
The women's movement and the Roman Catholic Church have not always shared common ground, but yesterday Pope Paul VI and Betty Friedan, the feminist, met for five minutes in an exchange of medallions, viewpoints, and restrained tributes.
"The Catholic Church is coming to terms with the personhood of women," Mrs. Friedan said, though she suggested that the Church had a long way to go. The Pope, she said, told her that the Church was continuing to examine the role of women but would not be making any "radical" changes.
Mrs. Friedan added that the Pope had expressed his thanks "for the work you have done for women" and presented her with a bronze medal. In turn, Mrs. Friedan gave the Pope a medallion of the women's liberation movement, featuring the biological symbol for female encircling an equal sign.
"I got a chance to say all I wanted to say, and I was pleased," said the feminist author. "But, well, as my protocol aide said, it was the meeting that was the message."
... the part that women are now playing in political life is everywhere evident. This is a development that is perhaps of swifter growth among Christian nations, but it is also happening extensively, if more slowly, among nations that are heirs to different traditions and imbued with a different culture. Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons.