Pope Francis on the plane back from Brazil

“A church without women would be like the apostolic college without Mary. The Madonna is more important than the apostles, and the church herself is feminine, the spouse of Christ and a mother.”
“The role of women doesn’t end just with being a mother and with housework … we don’t yet have a truly deep theology of women in the church. We talk about whether they can do this or that, can they be altar boys, can they be lectors, about a woman as president of Caritas, but we don’t have a deep theology of women in the church.”
“On the ordination of women, the church has spoken and said no. John Paul II, in a definitive formulation, said that door is closed.”

Mary Hunt, Will Francis’ Statements on Women and Gays ‘Make a Mess’ Inside the Church?

Boom. This is the same old same old theology—the Virgin Mary is more important than anyone else in the story, but living women cannot make ecclesial decisions, exercise sacramental ministry, or make ethical choices. Apparently, the question of women’s ordination is so yesterday in the Vatican Francis doesn’t think it needs to be revisited.

So much for democracy and making a mess (not to say “screwing up”) when it comes to internal church matters. I shudder to think what a “deep theology of women in the church” will look like, much less who will write it. So while I am delighted to see some small movement on the part of this pope on gay issues, I think it’s crucial that he not be given a pass on issues related to women. They are all of a piece.

I have asked Google for images of Pope Francis with women. Out of the hundreds shown of the Pope, I only found three of him with a woman.

Since Pope Francis has been elected, I have been ecstatic. He is an answer to my prayers, better even than what I had dared imagine.

In India, when a shawl or a tapestry is made, the artist always makes sure to insert an error in it to keep the evil eye out. This way, no one can exclaim, Oh, what a beautiful shawl!, thus bringing it bad luck. Same for a baby. When you are in India, never tell the a child’s mother, how beautiful her child is, for from then on she will fear bad luck for the child.

Well, Pope Francis seems to be perfect on all counts until we get to women. That’s his protection against the evil eye…

Then I have this strange feeling that our wonderful Francis knows very little about women. When it comes to a “truly deep theology of women,” I have bookshelves filled with books authored by brilliant and wise women theologians. Books that he has probably never heard of.

I find myself in a strange position: On the one hand I see this wonderful new Pope who might never get to the situation of women in the Church because there is so much to do elsewhere. On the other hand, I see my feminist sisters’ growing despair and increased alienation. Wonderful people who don’t seem to be able to meet.

Even more strangely, when I think of the situation of women in the world, whether economically or politically, women are the poorest of the poor. Single mothers carry the world on their shoulders. Who will be able to bring this sort of news to Casa Santa Marta? When will there be justice for women, not only in the world [there we can act more easily], but in the Church [where we have so little access]?

Will the Blessed Virgin have to appear to Pope Francis and tell him, ¡Francisco, Querido, por favor tenga cuidado de las mujeres! (Francis, Beloved, please, take care of women!)

One with you in the Risen Christ.

Photo: Pope Francis and a woman

Some posts on the same topic:

  • Iglezia Delcalzada, Pope Francis in Rio: The Good, the Not-so-good, and the Downright Ugly
  • Iglezia Delcalzada, Pope Francis and the theology of women: some concerns (Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebara)
  • Jamie Mason, When does our hope for Francis become denial?