· Vatican City ·


The Ideas

From Francis

 Da Francesco  DCM-004
01 April 2023

As we left the Apostolic Palace after our audience, and as we walked the few hundred meters to exit the Vatican through Saint Anne’s Gate, we asked each other what had been the most significant aspect about our meeting with Pope Francis.

He had received us in the Hall of the Popes for the tenth anniversary of Women Church World and the fourth anniversary of the current Steering Committee. This had been an audience devoid of ritual, of superfluity: there were no written speeches from either of us or in fact from him. It had been a chance to recount, to speak.

Therefore, we have something to share, we have a simple story.

We certainly liked that he said he has been reading Women Church World since its inception. Moreover, that he showed real interest, as if he was aware that he too needed to broaden his view with other perspectives. To some, specifically, this appeared wonderful “in a priest of his age”, special “in a Pope”.

We liked the fact that he considered us as interlocutors, as outposts as women living in these problematic times, each of us from a different place in terms of origin, religion, faith, thought, and culture. In the ensuing discussion between us, we reflected on the opportunity that this Pontiff represents in the opening of paths for the solution of the many problems women face in the Church.

The audience was held March 4, just before Women’s Day and coincided with the tenth anniversary of his pontificate. During those days, Francis emphasized women’s issues in society, in the Church and in the Vatican on several occasions.

With us, he described the triple language women know how to use: “that of the mind, that of the heart and that of the hands” because “a woman thinks what she feels, feels what she thinks and does, does what she feels and thinks”. A tribute.

In the following days, upon meeting with other women, he said that still today in this world “a woman is the first waste material. A woman is used. You are paid less because you are a woman. Then if they see you pregnant they take your job away. This is the way that is used in big cities, for example with maternity leave”. He then looked at home: “We notice it even here, in the Vatican, where women who ‘work hard’, even in roles of immense responsibility, are today many, thank God. For example, since the vice-governor is a woman, things have functioned better here, much better”. At the Council for the Economy there were six cardinals and six lay people, all men? “Now it has been renewed, two years ago, and of the lay people one is a man and five are women, and it has started to work, because they have a different capacity: of being able to act and also of being patient”.

On the issue of the women’s vote at the Synod, about which many feel there has been a downward policy so far - for the first time there is an undersecretary at the Synod of Bishops and that should be enough, - he said clearly: “All those who participate in the Synod will vote. Invitees or observers will not vote. Everyone who participates in a Synod has the right to vote. Whether man or woman. Everyone, everyone. The word ‘everyone’ for me is fundamental”.

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This issue of Women Church World for the month in which Easter falls, we report on research, experiences, studies, stories of women who deal with theology out of interest, work, and faith. These include those who study God, some examining the Scriptures from a feminine and feminist perspective, and whom express their own thoughts in the ecclesial and cultural landscape.

We also recount the journey of two out-of-the-ordinary and active women religious, the Blessed Lorenza Longo and Maestra Tecla Merlo. These women are founders of congregations, and certainly endowed with faith and mercy. In addition, they do so with great strength and practical sense, using their minds, hearts, and hands.