Pope Francis gave a tepid endorsement to women seeking greater equality in the Catholic Church on Tuesday, calling their claims “legitimate” but stopping short of actually promising action.
Francis’s 299-paragraph apostolic exhortation, titled “Christ is Alive,” came in response to an October 2018 meeting of the world’s cardinals, bishops and priests — as well as nine nuns who were forbidden from voting on the synod’s final recommendations. In those recommendations, the synod concluded that change was “inescapable” and that the church had “a duty of justice” to elevate women to positions of responsibility and decision-making within the church.
In his new document, Francis appeared to dial back the strong call to action delivered by the October synod. He also declined to make mention of the fact that the all-women staff of a Vatican magazine had recently resigned after alleged attempts by the church to censor their coverage of sexual abuse of nuns.
“A living church can look back on history and acknowledge a fair share of male authoritarianism, domination, various forms of enslavement, abuse and sexist violence,” wrote Francis, tacitly avoiding mention of the many current allegations of systemic economic exploitation. “With this outlook, she can support the call to respect women’s rights, and offer convinced support for greater reciprocity between males and females, while not agreeing with everything some feminist groups propose.”
The document also called for the “eradication” of practices that allowed church leaders to sexually abuse children, and condemned some leaders for treating sex abuse cases with “irresponsibility and lack of transparency.” But Francis declined to say there would be “zero tolerance” for abuse, and in another bizarre pivot, suggested that young people needed to personally interact with priests who they deemed susceptible to lusting after them in order to “remind him of his commitment to God and his people.”
Asked whether the Pope thought he might be putting young people in harm’s way with his advice, synod organizer Monsignor Fabbio Fabene said that young people would actually be making themselves safer by “showing closeness to priests experiencing difficulty.”
Read the full story at ABC News.