Pope Francis and the Role of Women in the Church

Pope Francis made a few comments today on one of my favorite topics: The role of women in the Church.

I think this is an area that needs a little work. My primary concern is the worldwide plague of violence against and exploitation of women. This evil is so endemic that we take it as a given. I have been praying for years that the pope — whoever the pope might be — would address this with the force and uncompromising moral clarity that it deserves.

The Holy Father did not address violence against women today, but he had a lot of other great comments, just the same.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Pope Francis met with experts on women’s issues today in Rome, affirming that the Church must continue to work for a more profound understanding of women and their roles.

“Also in the Church it is important to ask ourselves: what presence does woman have? Can it be valued more?” the Pope asked.

He met with experts who had participated in a seminar marking the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.” The two-day seminar was sponsored by the Pontifical Council of the Laity.

Pope Francis said the presence of women in the Church is “a reality that is very much on my heart.” He said he wanted to meet the seminar participants “and bless you and your task.”

He noted that John Paul II’s apostolic letter teaches that “God entrusts man, the human being, to woman in a special way.”

“What does this ‘special entrustment’ mean?” asked Pope Francis.

“I think it is evident that my predecessor refers to motherhood,” he explained. “And this is not simply a biological fact, but it involves a wealth of implications both for woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for a way of extending respect for human life and for life in general.”

The Pope then warned of two ever-present dangers, “two extreme opposites that degrade woman and her vocation.”

“The first is to reduce motherhood to a social role, to a task, however noble, but in fact sets apart woman with her potential, not fully valuing her in the construction of the community,” he noted.

The second peril is that of “promoting a type of emancipation that, in order to occupy the space stolen by the masculine, abandons the feminine with its priceless elements.”

He said women can help provide better insight into the nature of God.

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