Throughout the Aparecida document the bishops will turn to questions related to women. Paragraphs 48 and 49 treat women with two different approaches.
First of all, the bishops are aware of the precarious situation of women in Latin America, as noted in paragraph 48:
At this time in Latin America and the Caribbean, there must be greater awareness of the difficult situation affecting the dignity of many women. Some are subjected to many forms of violence, even as children and adolescents in the home and elsewhere: trafficking, rape, servitude, and sexual harassment; inequalities in the workplace, politics, and the economy; exploitive advertising by many social means of communications which regard them as a means of profit.
Their response to this situation can be found later in the document, especially in paragraphs 451 to 458 , where they note the equality of men and women (451) and call for the full participation of women (454).
In the next paragraph (49), though, they return to what is for them the problem of changing roles of men and women, a problem earlier addressed in term of the “ideology of gender” (40).
Cultural changes have modified the traditional roles of men and women, who are seeking to develop new attitudes and styles of their respective identities, empowering all their human dimensions in everyday shared life, in the family and in society, sometimes along erroneous paths.
The last phrase – “sometimes along erroneous paths” – reveals their anxiety in the face of major cultural changes, especially in terms of women.
The Latin American and Caribbean bishops are not so different from their brother bishops in the rest of the world where the role of women in the church – and in society – remains an ongoing challenge.
They recognize the injustices done to women; they recognize the equality of women with men; but perhaps they have not done a careful enough analysis of why there are injustices, facing questions of the history of patriarchy.