Woman of charism or woman of action. There should also be place for the woman of thought, yet her contribution to the teaching authority of the Church is not perceived as essential. Few women are involved in the pastoral care of the family, few hold chairs of Theology and their presence in the formation of priests is very rare.
“The picture of the current situation is quite precise. There is not much consideration of the woman in her contribution to human thought, also because she had very few possibilities to develop it. Only recently has she been accepted in the Pontifical colleges, where Theology is studied. It’s certainly true that there have been wise women and women who have given a contribution to human thought. But their contribution is sometimes more from the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit – like the great women who became doctors of the Church – than from having developed their thought through comparative studies with other thinkers. The woman always had to fulfil other roles in the Church and in humanity.”
On the topic of the woman, Francis only offered some hints. He counts on the fruitfulness of encounters more than on speculative moments. What would you think of a possible initiative of his that would give rise to a permanent committee, an F8, formed by women with great responsibilities in the Church?
“I think that there is still a long wait for us to see an all female corpus before the teaching authority of the Church. However, I prefer that the woman be together with the men, not someone separate to manifest her own difference. Thus it’s necessary for her to enter the systems of consultation, thought or decision, which are developing little by little in the Church, and to make her female voice be heard. Hence, I’m not thinking of an F8 but an 8 of some kind where men and women are represented, because each one has their own peculiarity, and it’s that distinctive feature that the Church needs. This type of body would appeal to me.”
What do you think of the conclave with the presence of superiors and general superiors of religious orders and presidents of international ecclesial organizations? Would it be an acknowledgement of women?
“I would like to distinguish the conclave as an assembly of preparation for the election of the Pope and the conclave as the moment of election of the Pope. I think it would be very useful if in the first phase there were also the presence of persons who carry out a role in the Church and can contribute their experiences. Their contribution would certainly be different but not less important than the one of the cardinals.
“From what Pope Bergoglio says, the meetings before the election revealed to be crucial for his current stance and for his way of leading the Church towards specific goals. Thus, if those consultative dialogues developed in a vaster ecclesial context than the one limited to only cardinals, I’m sure that more precious contributions would have been offered to our present-day Pope. Then, that these people be allowed to vote in the Pope’s election is something secondary for the moment. We’ll see the future developments, the history of the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit.”
Tomorrow your cell phone might ring and it’s Pope Francis inviting you to meet up with him for a dialogue on the woman and the Church. Which topics would you prioritize to discuss with him?
“Precisely this Pope who tells us about his grandmother and mother, I would ask whether this experience with the women of his family helps him to inspire also an openness to women in the teaching authority of the Church. Well, I would really like it if he would draw from those family experiences in order to highlight that women can have even greater influence than that of a spiritual director or a professor.
Moreover, in his long pastoral ministry in Argentina he must have met many women, also leaders of religious orders. In fact, his characteristics, his way of interacting and behaving make me believe that he had profound and authentic relationships with women. May he count on those rapports today so as to draw out the best from the women in the Church.”
by Paolo Lòriga