Francis, It's NOT Funny!

Eulalia Benejam Cobb (Lali)

"Question:  How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?  Answer:  That's not funny!"

Remember the days when we girls were expected to swallow demeaning jokes with a smile, or be accused of lacking a sense of humor?  Remember when being told we were pretty was supposed to make up for being treated as inferior beings?

Now it seems that those days are still with us, at least where Pope Francis is concerned.  In a recent interview, when asked for his opinion on the place of women in the Church, he answers:  "Women are the most beautiful thing God has made.  The Church is a woman.  Church is a feminine word..."

(Why thank you, Francis.  So glad you like our looks.) 

Then he repeats his frequent assertion that "we need a theology of woman."  I wonder who will make up that theology?  Surely not a gaggle of male clerics claiming a special relationship to the Holy Spirit...

When the interviewer asks whether Francis doesn't see "a certain underlying misogyny" in the Church's attitude towards women, the Pope gets nervous and...he makes a joke!  He pretends to justify this misogyny by saying, "The fact is that woman was taken from a rib," then laughs heartily.  And the women of the world are supposed to laugh along with him, or be accused of lacking a sense of humor. 

The journalist, who knows better than to even mention the ordination of women, then asks if he might some day place a woman in an administrative position in the Vatican.  And Francis, still nervous, makes another joke, saying that often priests end up under the authority of their housekeeper.  Ah yes, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world;  the hand that washes the priest's underwear rules the parish.

All this is so familiar, and so sad, not to mention enraging.  Where has Francis been for the last forty years?  How can he be so patronizing, and so naive?  Even more troubling, he presents himself as a champion of the poor and of the environment (he's writing an encyclical on the environment right now) while continuing to condemn artificial contraception as sinful.

My hopes for this pope plummeted when, soon after his election, I read the following quote opposing  Cristina Fernandez Kirchner's victorious bid for the presidency of Argentina:  ”women are naturally helpless to exercise political positions....The natural order and the facts show us that man is the being for politics by excellence; the Scriptures show us that the woman is always the support of the thoughtful man and doer, but nothing more than that.”

Nothing more than that--such hope-crushing words for women.  But at least we can take comfort in our beauty.

(You can see the English version of the full interview here.)


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