ROME — The Catholic Church needs to rediscover its maternal heart and the world needs Mary’s motherly guidance so it can become a place where everyone is welcomed as brothers and sisters, Pope Francis said.

“We need maternity, those who generate and regenerate life with tenderness, because only giving, caring and sharing hold the human family together,” he said during an audience Oct. 24 with professors and students of the Marianum, a pontifical institute for the study of Mariology in Rome.

A world without mothers has no future, he said. “Earnings and profits by themselves do not offer a future, rather sometimes they increase inequality and injustice. Mothers instead make every child feel at home and give hope.”

Pope Francis reminded the staff of the institute that they should be open to opportunities for collaboration with other institutes.

“Mary is a mother who teaches the art of encounter and walking together,” he said. “And, so, it is wonderful that, like in a big family, different theological and spiritual traditions merge at the Marianum, which contributes to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.”

It is important that Mariology also pays attention to, promotes and “sometimes purifies” popular devotions to Mary, he added.

And, just as women had an essential role in the story of salvation, their importance for the church and the world today must be recognized, the pope said.

“How many women do not receive their due dignity! Women, one of whom brought God into the world, must be able to bring their gifts to history,” he said.

“Their intelligence and manner are needed. Theology needs this so that it is not abstract and conceptual, but delicate, narrative and alive,” he said.

Mariology can contribute by bringing that beauty which “humanizes and instills hope” into today’s culture, he said, and it can look for “more dignified places for women in the church.”