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.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Jim Ven
Jim V10 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim V10 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

janet T.
janet t2 years ago

Seems to me a lot of the so-called christian churches practice misogyny! Why is it? It is just men having no curbs and boundaries on them, expressing their real feelings.

Julia Cabrera-Woscek

What did you expect from the leader of the Catholicism? Geesh!

Deborah H.
Deborah H3 years ago

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

Jennifer Burden
Jennifer Burden3 years ago

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

Deborah W.
Deborah W3 years ago

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.

Karen H.
Karen H3 years ago

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.

Christine Stewart

Thanks for the article.