Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, delivered the homily at the conclusion of the Gospel reading during yesterday's Liturgy of Our Lord's Passion at St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Benedict XVI presided.
Father Cantalamessa spoke about the women at the cross, describing them as "Mothers of Courage." He said that all of the people who wanted Jesus dead were men, and no women are described among them in the Gospels. Even Pilate's wife distanced herself from the sentence. They were the first to see the resurrected Jesus, he said, because they were the ones who never left him, and even when he was dead, they came to bring spices to the tomb. Jesus explained their motivation in describing the woman who bathed and kissed his feet in Luke 7:47: "She has shown great love."
Here are excerpts on what he had to say about women and the Church, from Denis Barrett's translation:
"On all sides the need is arising for us to give more scope to women. We don’t believe that “the eternal feminine will save us”[W. Goethe, Faust, finale of part II: “Das ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan"]. Everyday experience shows that woman can 'lift us to the heights', but can also plunge us into the depths. Woman too needs to be saved by Christ. But it is clear that once she has been 'set free', on the human level, of all the old subjections, she will be able to do much to save our society from certain inveterate evils that threaten us: violence, the will to power, spiritual aridity, the lack of regard for life. . . ."