By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

BOGOTÁ, February 1, 2008 ( – Speaking before a plenary assembly of the Colombian Episcopal Conference on the topic of “the role of women in the Church and society”, the group’s president, Luis Agusto Castro Quiroga, defended the traditional family and denounced forms of feminism that denigrate women’s traditional roles.

“The world expects the Christian woman, with the courage that is instilled in her by the Spirit, to have the audacity of the apostle himself to be a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ, to show the firm decision to defend life, the family, marriage, and motherhood,” said Castro Quiroga, Archbishop of Tunja.

The Archbishop observed that “feminism from the 1970s wanted to denigrate” such values, “asserting that they were an obstacle to the true promotion of women,” and added that women should “continue showing the creativity of someone who creates justice and peace to help women come out of the precarious situation that has no boundaries.”

While denouncing excesses in modern feminism, Castro Quiroga also warned against the opposite extreme, acknowledging, “Women have lived the experience of being marginalized, reduced to a simple helper of men, undervalued systematically and even considered incapable of making decisions that pertain to the whole community.”

Castro Quiroga also blasted the “ambiguous campaign promoted by the Ministry of Social Protection and various NGOs that present themselves as very concerned about the well-being of women, which is important, but are totally indifferent about the fate of unborn children.”

“The campaigns that accentuate the right of women, because she is the owner of her body, to eliminate the child inside of her, ignore the fact that this child is not part of her body, although it urgently needs it.”

The Ministry of Social Protection in Colombia should “be oriented towards helping the woman to cope with her pregnancy in the most positive way, without sacrificing the new life that is forming in her womb,” he said.

The plenary session, which began on January 28th, will continue until today, Friday, February 1st.  It is estimated that about 90 Colombian bishops and archbishops will be in attendance.