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When it Comes to Women, Pope Francis Isn’t the Progressive Everyone Wants Him to Be

When it Comes to Women, Pope Francis Isn’t the Progressive Everyone Wants Him to Be

Pope Francis has gotten a lot of love from the political left and progressive Catholics for his support for a more equitable economic system that values people over profits. With his focus on the poor, he’s become wildly popular. But there is still one group of people the leader of the Catholic Church won’t fight for, and that’s women.

Francis recently had his first interview with a woman since becoming pope, and it left a lot to be desired. Not only that, but parts were just downright dismissive, as explained in Raw Story:

But when his interviewer, the Vatican correspondent of the Rome daily Il Messaggero, Franca Giansoldati, asked him whether he did not detect an underlying misogyny in the Catholic church, Francis replied: “The fact is that woman was taken from a rib.” Giansoldati wrote that he then laughed “heartily” before saying: “I’m joking. That was a joke.”

Hahahaha! Good joke! It’s only the first story in a book that is apparently the infallible word of God, and it only places women at the outset as being just derivatives of men who are responsible for the banishment from paradise. The story of Eve is even referred to later in the Bible as a reason to exclude women from leadership positions. But no, by all means, let’s make a joke about it.

I don’t know why I’m particularly surprised, though. What was Pope Francis supposed to say? That no, he doesn’t see misogyny in the Catholic Church? He’s not a stupid man, and the evidence of that misogyny is everywhere. When being ordained a priest is considered a sin worthy of excommunication or when bishops feel the need to put the screws to a group of nuns who wish to focus on issues other than abortion and gays, no one will take you seriously if you say there is no misogyny in the Catholic Church. (One can, of course, be just fine with misogyny. But one can’t say it’s not there.)

This isn’t the only weirdly tone deaf thing the pope said in his interview. When asked whether he thought a woman could be the head of any Vatican department, he said, “Priests often end up under the sway of their housekeepers.”

What does that even mean? That women are smart enough to hold these positions of power, but…what, exactly? Our natural place in life is serving men? That the closest women can hope to get to power in the Catholic Church is cleaning up after the men who rule? Do you hear yourself, Francis?

Again, I don’t know why I’m surprised. This is the same person who condemned childless couples to a life of loneliness. I mean, women can’t hold down serious jobs if they’re pregnant all the time, right?

In his defense, Pope Francis did say that the role of women in the church deserved more discussion and that you can’t understand the Church without understanding a woman’s role in its development. However, the Bishop of Rome did not seem willing or able to be specific on what he’d like to see done. I mean, why make substantive changes when you can just pay lip service?

There’s another way to read this. It could be that Pope Francis has been vocal about his thoughts on capitalism because it’s popular to hate on capitalism. I mean, I’m sure the Koch brothers aren’t pleased, but it’s not like the Pope needs to run for re-election. Blasting income inequality seems bold, but it’s actually kind of a safe move. The answers Pope Francis gave to pointed questions about sexism in the Catholic Church could indicate an uncomfortableness with the subject. Maybe those are the answers of a man who wants to be more bold, but for various political reasons can’t be.

Admittedly, that’s a pretty generous reading of Pope Francis’ answers. One thing is clear, though. No matter how progressive this pope is on economic issues, he still won’t stick his neck out for women.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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11:36AM PST on Dec 10, 2014

I am Catholic. I agree with our dear Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. People, including some who call themselves Catholic, think they know what the Catholic Church is all about from hearing things about it and what they think is the Catholic Church or create their own view of it. That is why there is a lot of misunderstandings about the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church does not demean women at all. The Catholic Church has to obey God's word, Jesus is the one who said that Peter shall be the rock of the church. Mary, our mother and Queen of heaven and earth, is the mother of God, and is always honored and turned to for help. Women and our special qualities are highly respected by the church. Both men and women have their own special qualities that are both important. Babies have human rights, but the world doesn't seem to believe that. Contraception interferes with what God wills and interferes in the bond between man and women, it hurts the relationship. Contraception can cause cancer to the women also. The Catholic Church does help women who become pregnant and are single. People who are homosexual are not hated but loved as well. Catholics care about all people and all creation, all people are God's creation and God's children and God wants us to care for all with respect, God is the fullness of love. The media twists the words of what is really said and influences people. The pope is a messenger of God, letting people know of God's words and teachi

12:25PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

and that is the main reason the catholic religion and any pope will never get any love from me! Try including women, respecting them and supporting women's issues, then maybe I'll consider respecting your opinions

8:16AM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

Who gives a shit about what "everybody" wants him to be. His job is to teach the tenets of the religioous belieft he represents and present an invitation to join ... or not.

ree personal choice, take it or leave it ... you decide.

6:59AM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

Actually, Alan L, Vatican City didn’t become an independent state until 1929, under Benito Mussolini. Remember him? Adolph Hitler’s role model. Pius XI saw Mussolini as the man who would remove the separation of church and state in Italy and put the church back in charge. He, thus, allied himself with Mussolini but had second thoughts when Mussolini began persecuting Jews.
Jesus treated women well. Paul was a misogynist, and he seems to be the one many “Christians” follow. Maybe it shouldn’t be called Christianity but Paulianity.

4:00PM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

Thanks for the article.

12:44PM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

The reason the Vatican is considered a Nation-State, no matter how tiny it is, is that it is the only religion that actually holds property outside of a secular nation and has done so for 1700 years. Remember, at one time the rulers of ALL European nations acknowledged the Papacy as their superior and that Vatican City is actually the remnant of the Papal States that at one time controlled both the majority of modern Italy and most of Central Europe through the badly misnamed Holy Roman Empire.

The Muslim Holy Places are held within Saudi Arabia (Medina and The Kaaba in Mecca) and Israel (Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount, the only spot in the world sacred to all three of the monotheist religions)

8:26AM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

Thank you for this very interesting article.

9:59PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

good post

9:58PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014


6:14PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

I was a non-practicing catholic until a few years ago when my friend died who was also a catholic. She had terminal cancer and got me to go back for a while.After she passed I remembered why I had left before. I got the feeling, the whole time I have been a catholic that I was not welcome as a woman. At first I thought I was being silly. Now I am sure I was right on. The church is not about to ever let women in any form of power. Why should they? They have all the control. Something most men find very difficult to give up on.
Well the heck with them who needs them and their hypocrisy and misogyny. We get enough of that in the real world.

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