In April of 2004, The Moss Program for Christian Social Thought and Management, Catholic Women at Work, and the Archdiocesan Office for Family, Laity, Youth and Young Adults, co-sponsored a visit by Mary Ellen Bork to speak about the role of women in the recovery of culture. Bork, who lives with her husband, Judge Robert Bork, in Virginia, describes herself as a freelance writer and lecturer on issues affecting Catholic life and culture. Her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, the Washington Times and The New Criterion. Bork also sits on the board of many well-known organizations, including the School of Philosophy at Catholic University of American, Christendom College, the Cardinal Newman Society, the Institute for Religion and Democracy, and Women Affirming Life.
Bork visited with several groups during her stay, including law school faculty, seminarians and members of the Siena Group, a think tank devoted to the development of Christian feminism. Every encounter was a lively exchange of ideas, marked by her articulate grasp of the issues facing our culture and her graceful way of sharing her wisdom. Her visit culminated with a public lecture in O’Shaughnessy auditorium to a large crowd made up of students and faculty, as well as members of the larger Twin Cities community.
Bork’s talk focused on the special gifts that women bring to public life, especially as expressed by Pope John Paul II in his letter to women, Mulieris Dignitatem. She affirmed the Holy Father’s interpretation of scripture and argued along with him that the care of humanity actually is entrusted to women. Women have a special responsibility to look after and nurture people in both body and spirit. And when we forget that this is our role, humanity suffers. “A lot of people are not happy with the feminist message. They want to see limits on abortion,” Bork said. “Women need to defend marriage and life it in a dignified way; they need to defend the role of motherhood.”
And motherhood is not just a physical phenomenon. Women who do not have children are still called to the nurture and care of other persons, as well as of ideas or of projects at work or in other aspects of public life. We have a creative role to play, wherever God has placed us.
While Bork was certainly concerned about the current state of the culture, she remained optimistic in her outlook. She argued that many young people have witnessed firsthand — in their families and elsewhere — the fact that certain choices do not bring happiness. She encouraged the audience to stay the course in presenting our youth with an alternative to that offered by the media and popular culture. “They want to hear the truth about the meaning of life. The biblical approach to life is attractive and not at all antique.”