Women and Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Despite the popularity of Pope Francis as a theological progressive, some people are beginning to question his understanding of women in the life of the Church. According several of his public remarks gathered in the Huffington Post, a highly patriarchal view of women seems to be part of his papacy:


For all his positive comments and reforms, they said, the pope “reveals a highly patriarchal view” of the value and traditional role of women.

1. “Be a mother and not an old maid!”

“Please, let it be a fruitful chastity, a chastity that generates sons and daughters in the church. The consecrated woman is a mother, must be a mother and not an old maid (or “spinster”). … Forgive me for speaking this way, but the motherhood of consecrated life, its fertility, is important.”

— Address to nuns from around the world, May 8, 2013

2. “I am wary of ‘masculinity in a skirt.’“

“It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church. I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of ‘female machismo’ (“machismo in gonnella,” he said in Italian, or “masculinity in a skirt”) because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo.”

— Interview with Jesuit publications, September 2013

3. “The fact is, woman was taken from a rib.”

Q: Do you see a bit of misogyny in the background (of your references to women mainly as mothers and wives rather than leaders)?

A: “The fact is, woman was taken from a rib.” (The pope gives a hearty laugh.) “I am kidding, that was a joke … ”

— Interview with the Italian daily Il Messaggero, June 29, 2014

For the rest of the story, please visit the Huffington Post religion page here.


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  1. Chaz Brooks

    I hate to sound like a stodgy Protestant, but all the ostentatious humility aside, he is still the pope.

  2. John Grisham

    My impression is that Francis is not nearly so progressive as some people seem to hope (or fear), and that he has no intention of even trying to implement the kind of changes that progressives, specifically, have long desired to see in the RCC.
    For now, he is still bathing in the glow of positive media coverage, based on a few comments or offhand phrases he has made that soothe the sensibilities of Western media. But if the happy-talk is not followed up by some tangible, real-life “facts on the ground”, the people who have been saying nice things about him will grow disillusioned and turn on him.

  3. Rod Gillis

    The metaphor used by Francis in his speech at Strasbourg was a take note event, for both feminists and journalists.

    The BBC reports, “At the European Parliament, he spoke of a need to reinvigorate Europe, describing the continent as a “grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant” and saying it risked “slowly losing its own soul”.

    The entire BBC feature can be found here.

  4. JC Fisher

    “I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of ‘female machismo’ (“machismo in gonnella,” he said in Italian, or “masculinity in a skirt”) because a woman has a different make-up than a man.”

    If there’s a problem w/ machismo in the RCC—and I think there is—it is sure as heck NOT coming from females!

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