In an interview sure to raise eyebrows — and blood pressures — one of the most prominent Catholic lay women at the Vatican, L’Osservatore Romano contributor Lucetta Scaraffia, has opened up about the role of women in the Church, and she doesn’t hold back.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse published yesterday, Scaraffia (left) amplified points she first aired in a 2010 L’Osservatore piece — namely, that the lack of women in positions of ecclesial decision-making helped give rise to, among other things, the scope and depth of the church’s sex-abuse scandals.
“The pedophilia scandal was almost exclusively male,” Scaraffia told the wire’s Jean-Louis de la Vaissiere.
“If there had been women in positions of power,” she said, “they would not have allowed those things to happen.
“Women have long been reputed as sexually dangerous. But it’s clear that the danger” of abuse and its mishandling by church officials “lay with men and children,” she added.
Elsewhere in the sit-down, Scaraffia spoke of what AFP termed a “lonely battle,” saying that, in some parts of the Curial world, “The indifference is terrible…. There is misogyny in the church.“It’s a closed world, caught up with issues of power. Many in the clergy are afraid that if women come onto the scene there will be less room for them.
“It’s not possible to go on like this,” she said. “Women in the Church are angry!”
While similar critiques have tended to fire away at the Man in White, however, the columnist praised Pope Benedict, saying that the pontiff — who has long relied on women as key collaborators behind-the-scenes — “has the courage to see things as they are” in tackling the crises facing the church, whether the long trail of abuse or the Vatican’s recent fiasco over the leaking of confidential documents.
As opposed to an approach that “always covered scandals up,” Scaraffia said Benedict “lets them come to light.”
While “many people believe it is better to hide things,” for Benedict, “the church is not protected by silence,” she said.
The Pope “thinks that, for purification, there needs to be shame.”
She added, however, that “if there were women with authority in the church, nothing would be leaked.”