What Pope Francis Did Not Say

During his weekly audience on April 29th 2015, Pope Francis voiced support for equal pay for equal work. Frank Bruni, columnist for The New York Times, congratulates the Pope on publicly taking this position. However, Bruni also criticizes Pope Francis for not acknowledge the disparity in economic treatment of women in the Catholic Church and opportunities for equal work.

As Bruni argues, Pope Francis

“…left out [of his weekly address] the part about women in the Roman Catholic Church not even getting a shot at equal work. Pay isn’t the primary issue when you’re barred from certain positions and profoundly underrepresented in others.

Pay isn’t the primary issue when the symbolism, rituals and vocabulary of an institution exalt men over women and when challenges to that imbalance are met with the insistence that what was must always be — that habit trumps enlightenment and good sense.”

Bruni ends his opinion column with this provocative thought, illustrating the gender inequity in the Church:

“They’ve [men] grown up in a world where all doors have been open to them,” said Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. “And it just strikes a disconnect when they see the church with no female leadership — at least they’re not the ones at the altar.”

Francis hasn’t sanctioned any discussion of putting them there. When pressed about that by an Italian reporter last year, he reminded her that “women were taken from a rib.”

Was he ribbing her? He laughed and said so. But the metaphor remains, and it casts women as offshoots, even afterthoughts.

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