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Francis: women are first communicators of the Resurrection.

CNS photo/Paul HaringAs I moved through St. Peter's Square pestering every American I could find, I noticed a trend. Young Catholics kept bringing up the same concerns about their faith: how the church treats abuse victims, gays and lesbians, people of other religions -- and women. (I wrote up some of that in the current issue ofCommonweal.) I hope they've been paying attention to Pope Francis since they left Rome, because he's been addressing the last of those topics with considerable vigor.

Francis's Easter Vigil homily led with the women who discover the empty tomb. "They had felt understood by [Jesus] in their dignity," Francis said, "and they had accompanied him to the very end." Even though the women initially react with fear to what they find, their "loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others." In their dignity, understood by Jesus, they bring the good news. And yesterday morning, he preached on John's account of Mary Magdalene weeping at the empty tomb -- until the risen Christ appears and bids her to tell the rest what she has witnessed. Francis then exhorted believers to see through her eyes: "Sometimes in our lives tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus," he said. And today, during his Wednesday audience, he extended his reflection on the role of women as first communicators of the gospel.

After criticizing attempts to "obscure faith in the Resurrection of Jesus," Pope Francis turned to the question of transmitting that faith. Again he noted that women were the "first witnesses to this event." Yet, "in the professions of faith of the New Testament, only men are remembered as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women." Why? To answer that question, Francis delivered a little lesson in historical-critical method:

According to the Jewish Law of the time, women and children were not considered reliable, credible witnesses. In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. Here we can see an argument in favor of the historicity of the Resurrection: if it were a invented, in the context of that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women. Instead, the evangelists simply narrate what happened: the women were the first witnesses. This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women.... In the church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love. The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!

As I read that passage, I suddenly recalled the first time I'd heard that argument -- as a sophomore at Fordham, in a course on feminist theology, taught by Elizabeth A. Johnson.



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OK, I know this is going to sound sexist and bitter, but that never stopped me from opening my yap:As Grant and others on here noted, Pope Francis's remarks about women in the Gospels and in Catholic life have been made before, and for quite a long time. That women are clasping these remarks to their bosoms in gratitude indicates to me that many women still feel unappreciated and misunderstood. Someone above noted discomfort with the notion of women as being "special," and I concur. Whenever someone tells me that I have a "special" role to play in some endeavor, it usually means I'll need rubber gloves, disinfectant, and/or a lot of Bufferin. As for women and mothers having some special charge to pass on the faith, well, that sounds pretty much like a ladies auxiliary set-up to me. We men will make up the club constitution and bylaws, while you girls pop out the potential members and keep them in the organization. Pffft.

I was struck by Ann Oliviers comment at 11:58 a.m.:

Its the Vaticans rigid practice of forbidding public discussion of obviously neuralgic problems that drives me crazy. Just ignore the toothaches, kiddies, and they will go away, it tells us. Even four-year old children know thats nonsense. Sex abuse, bishops cover-ups, married priests, woman priests, sexual morality just bury the topics and all will be hunky-dory! Yeah, sure. And chickens have lips.

That reminded me of something Ann had said earlier: forbidding discussion flies in the face of what used to be standard practice. I hadnt saved her earlier comment, so I wrote to her, asking her to send it to me. She couldnt find it, either, and so was kind enough to write it all up again. I think its excellent, and wanted everyone else to be able to see it, so Im going to post it here. Ive highlighted the parts which, in my opinion, are especially important.

The "Scholastic method" of doing theology and philosophy had its roots in some logical works of Aristotle which were known in the early medieval West, plus Muslim science had a quiet but strong influence on it. The method's strongest impetus came from the work of Peter Abelard, a world-class logician by any standard, a master debater, a musician, and most famously the lover of Eloise. He, of course, ended up in trouble with the Pope, as did many medieval theologians, but in spite of all the ferment, theology flourished. (As I see it, it flourished *because* of the ferment, the dialectical method.) By the 13th century the method of argument had come to require that each debater make careful distinctions, define their terms clearly, and present *all* sides of an issue fairly, and when a teacher presented his own view on a topic he had to do so in a highly stylezed format. First, he had to formulate the debated question clearly, e.g.," Does God exist?". Next he was required to present clearly and fairly *all* of the positions which differed from his own. Only after he had presented the other side(s) would he present his own position, and he was required to *give reasons why* he thinks his position is true. Last -- and this seems peculiar to medieval argumentation -- he was required to answer one by one each of the arguments of his opponents that he presented at the beginning, giving *reasons why* he said they were wrong.Fairness, clarity, evidence, and reason were the names of the game. The method flourished all the way into the 16th century in Spain, but the interest in the empirical sciences and scientific method came to dominate Western thinking. I'll just note that with all the vaunted strength of the Enlightenment's scientific method, it doesn't require clear definitions of terms (have you ever found a definition of "matter" in a physics book?), and neither does it require answering critics' views point by point (just look at the naive arguments against intelligent design these day).The Scholastic method is long gone from Catholic theology. Pity. If it were still with us, the Vatican would have to not just permit but encourage public debate of *all* sides of the important issues, even the sides it fears and despises most. New questions of natural law would be debated, with all sides given consideration, along with evidence both pro and con for all sides. Oh, for the 13th century!!! Sigh.

I usually get my information about public figures from the news rather than in my dreams. But with very little provocation, I can be persuaded to tell about the time I dreamed George H.W. Bush lived next door and came over to complain that we didn't mow our lawn or wash our car often enough.

The gospel reference to the women at the tomb seems to inspire homilies similar to the Pope's in many parishes, so I'm not surprised to read what he said at the Easter Vigil in Rome. Ironically, it was his actions on Maundy Thursday (washing the feet of women, including a Muslim woman) that spoke louder than these words, scoring him a good deal of controversy in certain quarters. Speaking as a woman, I thank him.

"... and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness!"Unfortunately, his comments imply that he too thinks it's perfectly OK for men to limit women's witness to the small world of the home, giving tacit support to the idea that is the prerogative of men to define how and to whom women should witness. He does not limit men to giving witness to their children and grandchildren exclusively or primarily. One hopes that even though this affirmation of women as the first witnesses to the resurrection (which breaks no new ground) that there is at least a glimmer of hope in this statement"...the women were the first witnesses. This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria."Perhaps at some point he will be able to act to develop the truth that God especially does not choose according to the criteria of traditional patriarchy.

I appreciate the reminder that Jesus first revealed his birth to shepherds, outcasts barred from the temple, and his resurrection to women, 2nd class citizens in his culture.How can you not love a Messiah like that?

What a difference a conclave can make!?! Instead of having to listen to B16's condescending screeds about the moral "dictatorship of relativism," we now hear encouraging words from Francis that women indeed have the preeminent role which sparked the Resurrection faith. [Even though Francis still has a lot of work to do in overcoming the lingering effects and artifacts of a life spent among aging celibate men with their ossified conceptions of women's roles in the human experience.]I suppose that more than anything I am thankful that Francis has applied his Jesuit intellectual formation and, at least it appears on first blush, does not become entrapped in fading and spent ideology.

I heard the same ideas about women-witnesses fifty years ago, at the Gregorian, in Rome.

This is wonderful Grant !In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. .. The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!And the implications of all this for reforming the Church, to orient her face to the world instead of self-referential introspection, are what ?And our role in bringing about that necessary reform, is what ?God Bless

What, precisely, are the "professions of faith of the New Testament"?The argument about the significance of women as unreliable witnesses has been a popular one for a good 110 years, give or take. I do not think that is particularly sound, and another Elizabeth (Schussler Fiorenza) might reference it as an example of the Christian tendency to apologize for unsavory aspects of their tradition by giving them Jewish origins.

Pope Benedict XVI made the point about the women being unacceptable witnesses in their day on pages 262-63 of Jesus of Nazareth, Part 2. His conclusion may not please everyone, though:"The Church's juridical structure is founded on Peter and the Eleven, but in the day-to-day life of the Church it is the women who are constantly opening the door to the Lord and accompanying him to the Cross, and so it is they who come to experience the Risen One."

They had felt understood by [Jesus] in their dignity " women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord"I can't help but cringe when I see women's "dignity" mentioned, or when they are said to be "special" .... this is a way to create difference which justifies different treatment. I would be happier if women and men could just all be treated equally as disciples.

Not only were the women at the tomb the first communicators, they were the first of all to be charged by Christ to go and proclaimhypagete apangeilatethat he was risen. He might have asked one of the angels, I suppose, or might have gone himself, as he did later, to the locked room where the Eleven were hiding. But he expressly entrusted that commission to those who had shown themselves most worthy of receiving it.

I sympathize with both Crystal and Anne C. Though I'm glad that he's making the right gestures and heading in the right direction, these arguments can be read in a rather paternalistic direction about women's genius and where it should be properly circumscribed--showing Jesus, but in the domestic, private sphere. I'm not saying this is in fact what Francis is saying, but doesn't seem inconsistent with what he says either. I'm also rather struck by the last line that Grant quotes: "The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!" Weren't women among the disciples? We've long heard how apostles were only men, but all the other disciples too?

"But there is another form of poverty. It is the spiritual poverty, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-beloved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the 'TYRANNY OF RELATIVISM', which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the co-existence of peoples." [emphasis supplied] Address of Pope Francis, Audience with the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 23 March 2013.-----Let's just say elements of Pope Benedict's papacy gave me pause. But the principal theme of his homilies, Wednesday audience talks, Sunday Angelus talks, it seems to me, was our encounter with Christ, the call to keep our eyes fixed on il volto di Cristo, the loving and merciful face of Christ.One of the great treasures of the conciliar liturgical reform is, I believe, the immensely rich selection of readings from the Church's great teachers and preachers that are found in the Office of Readings of The Liturgy of the Hours -- Popes Leo and Gregory, Ambrose, Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, Catherine of Siena, and the rest. When an English translation of a future revision of the Liturgia Horarum is done, I would not be surprised to find a half dozen selections that begin "From a sermon of Benedict XVI, pope."

I'm repeating myself from several days ago.During his Easter Vigil homily, Pope Francis spoke of "le donne discepole di Gesu'." The women disciples of Jesus. I thought that the official English translation weakened it a bit by saying,"the women who were disciples of Jesus."

"I would not be surprised to find a half dozen selections that begin From a sermon of Benedict XVI, pope.John Page, I see that you are a prophet, or at least the son of a prophet.Speaking of Benedict's Wednesday audiences, here is what he said on February 14, 2007:"The Gospels then tell us that the women, unlike the Twelve, did not abandon Jesus in the hour of his Passion (cf. Mt 27: 56, 61; Mk 15: 40). Among them, Mary Magdalene stands out in particular. Not only was she present at the Passion, but she was also the first witness and herald of the Risen One (cf. Jn 20: 1, 11-18).

Question: Did Benedict ever spend a Triduum preaching about women?

These words fill me with joy, because I believe they are spoken with respect and sincerity and because women are still the neglected and despised in so much of the world. Yes, our dignity is affronted every time an abortion for sex selection kills a female child, and every time a woman is raped, and in every honor killing, and for every girl sold into prostitution, and more. No one statement will resolve all concerns or issues. But I have no problem whatsoever having someone in the Pope's position stand up for the dignity of women. Perhaps some of the clergy and other men of the Catholic world very much need to hear this in societies that still count women as chattel, so that they too will stand up for the dignity of women and we can make some progress together.

To whom did Mary Magdalen go to announce that the tomb was empty? To her children and grandchildren?

What exactly does the "dignity of women" mean? Do men have a different kind of dignity? Why do women have some "special" role in the church as different from men's role? All this is about complementarianism, defining women's ontological nature as different from men's.Sure, it's nice that the pope mentioned Mary M and that he thinks women have some particular role in the church. But this role ("this is the mission of women, of mothers and grandmothers, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen!') doesn't seem like anything new.

So women are somehow like the "simple shepherds"? Not intended to offend... but, still. On Easter Sunday the absent-minded LC priest who has been known to forget to say the Creed on Sunday, maundered on about that sinful woman, Mary Magdalen, conflating her with the sinful woman of Luke 7, though he thought the story might be in Mark. He looked about, perhaps reflecting that this was the 8:45 Mass, where a couple of pedantic old folks had tried to set him straight about Mary Magdalen before. So he took a deep breath and added:" and she came from a whole city of sinful women! And she had been possessed by seven devils, and you know nobody ever got possessed without inviting it, probably by practicing sorcery! Honestly, you can't make these things up.

Loved the remarks but talk - specially homiletic talk - is cheap if it doesn't mean something changes. So far nothing changes. And I'm not betting on it no matter how much we all like Pope Francis.

If you would like to know more about the importance of women in the New Testament, I invite you to join us for the 50th Anniversary of the Annual Georgetown University Institute on Sacred Scripture, where noted New Testament scholar and popular speaker, Sr. Barbara E. Reid O. P. of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, will lecture on "Fifty Years of Feminist Biblical Interpretation." We meet from June 11-13 on the campus of Georgetown University. The Institute on Sacred Scripture was established by Fr. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S. J. as part of the 175th Anniversary of Georgetown University in 1964 and has met consecutively for fifty years since. It is the oldest and longest running Institute of its kind in the nation. It was founded while Vatican II was still going on and is truly a product of the Second Vatican Council. And so we are also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Vatican II with a special evening lecture, only for those registered in for the Institute, by Fr,. John O'Malley, S.J., who will speak on "Trent and Vatican II on Scripture. You can see our ad above and click on it or follow this link for more information and registration It would be great to meet you all in DC this coming June.

There is also this from the Pope --"One initial difference is that in the confessional tradition only men are named as witnesses, whereas in the narrative tradition women play a key role, indeed they take precedence over the men. This may be linked to the fact that in the Jewish tradition only men could be admitted as witnesses in courtthe testimony of women was considered unreliable. So the official tradition, which is, so to speak, addressing the court of Israel and the court of the world, has to observe this norm if it is to prevail in what we might describe as Jesus ongoing trial. "The narratives, on the other hand, do not feel bound by this juridical structure, but they communicate the whole breadth of the Resurrection experience. Just as there were only women standing by the Crossapart from the beloved discipleso too the first encounter with the risen Lord was destined to be for them. The Churchs juridical structure is founded on Peter and the Eleven, but in the day-to-day life of the Church it is the women who are constantly opening the door to the Lord and accompanying him to the Cross, and so it is they who come to experience the Risen One.Pretty much the same lesson -- from Pope Benedict in Volume Two of Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 262-63.

The distinction between the "confessional" tradition and the "narrative" tradition seems spurious at best. It is a not so subtle justification for the Church to follow the "confessional" tradition regarding women when it should be following the "narrative" tradition? Another one of Benedict's convenient distinctions like the "hermeneutics of continuity" to uphold the status quo.

Perhaps this is parsing things too closely.I have now watched, several times, a video clip of Pope Francis speaking of "mothers and women" passing on faith in Christ Risen to their children and grandchildren. He becomes very animated as he speaks, and is not reading from his text. He smiles and gestures,"Questo e bello, eh?" "This is beautiful, no?' He concludes, "Mamme e donne, avanti con questa testimonianza!"But the English text leaves out "donne" (women) at this second point, and has only "Mothers, go forward with this witness!" The smiling, animated Francis seems, however, to be extending his peroration not just to "mothers," but to "women" in general.John XXIII was often frustrated by the editing in the "official" ITALIAN text of what he had actually said, in Italian.

About women being special=OF course we are, on average, anyway. So are men. Even the psychologists have found that some of the old stereotypes of women and men have some foundation in fact. Women are generally better at using words, and men are generally better at math. It's not a matter of each lacking the other ability, and individual men and women do excel in the other. Further, men seem to be more aggressive than women, though this doesn't claim that women aren't aggressive at all, nor does it deny that some women are as aggressive as some men.It seems that our differences are matters of degrees. But there is still something amazing that women can do that men can't, and it is a wonder to me why so many women disparage the ability.

Joseph A. Komonchak 04/03/2013 - 4:03 pm SUBSCRIBER CONTRIBUTORI heard the same ideas about women-witnesses fifty years ago, at the Gregorian, in Rome.

I'm expecting those now enthusing guardedly over the openness of Francis to become gradually disillusioned as they uncover just another fusty patriarch beneath the promising gestures.That's hardly the case, though. Read the dialogues with Abraham Skorka, preferably in Spanish. I doubt the refreshing earthiness will come through in the English translation, due out at the end of April.

Crystal Watson 04/03/2013 - 10:45 pmWhat exactly does the dignity of women mean? Do men have a different kind of dignity?

Yep. We're very different in many ways. That may not last once the geneticists get their hands on us - give it a few hundred years - but it's been true all along up until now :O)

About men and women being different ...">Men and Women Not So Different, After AllAnd when the church says men and women are ontologically different, it's saying that they are different in God's eyes, that he gave them different natures.

Crystal --The Church definitely does not teach that our fundamental natures are different. It teaches that we are all, male and female, rational animals. Aristotle put it nicely -- he said male and female are like two parts of one flower. When Christ became man He shared our fundamental nature, and He did so in order to redeem us all. His own sex had nothing to do specifically with the Redemption. He didn't come to save just men. And that's why the refusal to ordain women -- supposedly because we aren't men like Him -- really misses the main point of the incarntion. We are all saved by His becoming human, not by His becoming specifically male.

Ann, I'm glad to hear that.

Ann Olivier 04/04/2013 - 1:25 am subscriber"About women being special... But there is still something amazing that women can do that men cant, and it is a wonder to me why so many women disparage the ability."I am blessed to be a mother and a grandmother. I would not be the same person had I not been. Still, that is not all I am. I believe that most of us are not disparaging the ability to give birth, but we ask to be recognized for the full range of gifts we've been given.

I hope everyone registered John Page's comment in the dead of night (1:21 a.m.), Even with my non-existent Italian, I can tell that "Mothers" is not an adequate translation of Mamme e donne." Francis would not be the first pope to be zealously protected from doctrinal deviation by those who surround him. The real test of a pope is not what he says, especially in official texts and translations, so much as the new assignments he finds for his most zealous protectors.

Sue, That homily ranks high among crazed idiocies that I've heard from the pulpit. Wow!Nevertheless, I think the Pope's comparison to simple shepherds was in reference to them being "unexpected" recipients of the message, because society of their time regarded them as too lowly. I don't think it's a put down of women's capacities for different forms of endeavor and achievement. Jesus didn't mind being compared to a shepherd, but now your reaction is making me think: maybe it was a sign of self-abasement that he compared himself to a shepherd? Surely all shepherds are lowly, there's no such thing as a grand shepherd! While I'm on this tangent... Sofia Cavalletti, the revered pioneer of early childhood religious education (the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a worldwide phenomenon now) states quite without apology that for young children, the Good Shepherd is a female figure. Finally, I'm surprised that Juliana and Anne are affronted by the Pope addressing mothers. (And I hope that by now Juliana has seen that John Page is right, it's mothers and women, not just mothers.) In any case, it does not seem to me irrelevant or insulting to address mothers with respect to sharing the good news with their children. Many of us owe our mothers a great debt of gratitude for their faith, shared with us. This isn't unimportant.What haunts me, however, is all the mothers I know who have done all that can be done and their children still don't believe, they walk away, they reject faith altogether. So far from this being a trite and easy task, it's one that risks deep disappointment and requires great faith.

Rita,I'm sorry if you interpreted my language as "affronted" . I was responding to Ann's question, not at all to the language of the Pope. I am generally thrilled by his election and his actions and words so far.

The most remarkable thing about this homily is not the content but the reactions. A year ago the same words would have led to people harshly criticizing the questionable bits, interpreting them negatively, and ignoring the bits that are more positive for women. There has been a sudden change of attitudes among readers, from suspicion to goodwill. That has to be a good thing!

Women were the first witnesses of the Resurrection, praise be to God! That is why this following "witness" saddens the heart:

Frank, why does the article you link to "sadden" your heart? Rita ("Im surprised that Juliana and Anne are affronted by the Pope addressing mothers.") and Ann ("But there is still something amazing that women can do that men cant, and it is a wonder to me why so many women disparage the ability.") - I don't see anyone disparaging women's ability to give birth and be mothers. The issue isn't acknowledging that women as mothers can witness to their children. But so can fathers, and it seems that this would also be emphasized, but never is. Studies have shown that most children take the religious denomination of the mother (if parents have different denominations or faiths) but the religious practice of their fathers. If their fathers were not involved in the family's faith life, or if it is perfunctory, the children are likely to also have a perfunctory faith when adults. I am so far pleased with what Francis has done as pope in reducing the sometimes scandalous spectacle of some members of the Catholic hierarchy as living examples of conspicuous consumption and imperial splendor, and especially in an apparent emphasis in putting action to the words "preferential option for the poor." Francis seems very open and he seems to understand that many women feel demeaned and excluded in the church. But, there is nothing new in giving homage to women in their maternal roles. It is hardly groundbreaking - it is how the church has always defined (and limited) women - and that is why I wondered why so many Alleluia choruses were being sung. Both of you may have missed the point that Juliana made, one which I share - Juliana wrote:"I am blessed to be a mother and a grandmother. ....Still, that is not all I am. I believe that most of us are not disparaging the ability to give birth, but we ask to be recognized for the full range of gifts weve been given."Why are males not also told that their primary witness is to their children and grandchildren as fathers as women are told it is as mothers? Why are males permitted (by other males) to offer their "full range of gifts" in service to the church but females are limited (by males) to specific, and mostly traditionally "feminine" roles?Ann, I don't think anybody is trying to say that women and men are the "same." They aren't. But the way the church defines "complementarity" is not a wholistic understanding of what that should mean. In the church's definition, instead of including both male and female in the leadership in a way that ensures true complementarity, specifically in the priesthood which also means in the development of doctrine which currently reflects male celibate thinking almost exclusively, the church is denying the feminine in God (God made them male and female in God's image). It is limiting women in ways that it does not limit men in how they serve the church, the family and society.

@ Dear "fusty patriarch" David Smith: There comes a time in every man's life - hopefully before we start pushing up daisies - when we understand that women really have been endowed by nature with a special "dignity."In case you missed it David, women in their very bodies mirror the creative prowess of the Divine in ways that leave men wanting. Many anthropologist theorize that this perceived deficiency is the root genesis of adolescent male initiation rites in most aboriginal cultures.The felt psychological lack by men is one of the reasons why men resort to chauvinistic power domination - men fear women's creative powers, so they try to control them. Monotheistic religious traditions are particularly susceptible to this twisted form of patriarchy. Unfortunately, this is the kind of patriarchy that has been going on in the Roman church for lo these last 17 centuries, ever since Constantine co-opted Christianity for the purposes of his political hegemony.Some wisdom I learn from a life shared with the world's most competent female nephrologist: Sit back and just watch and appreciate how really women really are the smarter and more beautiful of the species.

Sorry, an addendum to the 2nd paragraph in my posting above [I was distracted by the dogs wanting to be fed!]:Women are initiated into adulthood [Life] by nature when they first experience menses. Men have no equivalent biological process so human culture has created teenage boy initiation rites.

Juliana, thanks for the clarification. I am sorry if I misinterpreted your earlier comment.Anne, thank you for responding. I know what you mean, really I do. And I fully expect Pope Francis to stereotype and pigeonhole and otherwise "define" women in ways that are unfair and unjust before his (long, I hope) pontificate is over. How could he not? His culture, his milieu, his ecclesial experience all are shaped by others who have gone down the same road. I just don't think that is what he is doing here. We disagree, but I wish you well.

I am still betting on Francis. I thing he gets it and will escape his milieu.

I'm hopeful that Frances, because of his ability to listen, will finally hear what we women are telling him. Yes, as a member of the Jesuit order whose training historically has been to educate boys only, there is probably a great lacuna in his formation with regard to what girls and women really are. The Jesuits, I think, have been particularly lacking in their understanding of women -- they just haven't dealt with that many until relatively recently. But they seem to be willing to learn. So I'm quite hopeful. Also, Frances seems to *like* women, which not all men do.

Ann, my hopes are high too, and precisely for the reasons you adduce. Listening is 9/10th of the whole thing. I just don't want to expect him to be an angel; he's human, and there will come a day when we need to forgive him as we forgive all; but for now, I feel gratitude and like Bill, in my heart I do believe he "gets it" so I certainly want to give him a chance.But, Ann, I must correct your spelling! Francis, not Frances, which is feminine. Perhaps you are thinking of Francesco?

Rita, I know what you mean, and personally am hopeful about Francis. I think I was reacting negatively both to his image of women as simple uncomplicated souls, and the way he contrasted them with "apostles and disciples"-- as though women could not be, and were not, apostles and disciples. Nevertheless I think he means well and we are fortunate to have him.

I read these comments and they make me wonder: On my deathbed, 1) will I wish I had spent more time at work or more time with my family and 2) will I want to be surrounded by work colleagues or family. One never knows the future for certain, but I'm pretty sure both answers will be family. So it just leads me to believe that we are dramatically undervaluing that "something amazing that women can do that men cant." But, hey, I'm just a guy

I think the Jesuits actually are pretty good about women - they work with them a lot as colleagues at universities and retreat centers. JESUITS AND THE SITUATION OF WOMEN IN CHURCH AND CIVIL SOCIETY ....

PS - Jesuits like Robert Egan have written in support of women's ordination ....