Pope Francis pushes for gender equality, condemns FGM

Pope Francis waves to pilgimsat Paul-VI hall in The Vatican.

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims during the weekly general audience at Paul-VI hall in The Vatican on August 24, 2022. He has said a society that does not allow women to have greater roles does not move forward.

Photo credit: Photo | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Pope Francis says women appointed in the Vatican have proved they can be better managers than men.
  • He noted that equality between men and women is still not universally found and there are these incidents where women are second class or less.

Women appointed in the Vatican have proved that they can be better managers than men, Pope Francis has said.

"I have noticed that every time a woman is given a position (of responsibility) in the Vatican, things improve," he said.

He spoke during a press conference to international media aboard the papal plane to Rome on Sunday as he returned to Rome from a four-day trip to Bahrain.

When asked about the women at the forefront of protests in Iran, he did not answer the question, pivoting to the topic of the role of women in general.

Powerful woman

The pope singled out Sister Raffaella Petrini as one of the women he appointed to a managerial position. She is the deputy governor of Vatican City, and is effectively the most powerful woman in the Vatican, in charge of some 2,000 employees.

"Things have changed for the better," he said, referring to the management skills of Ms Petrini, who was appointed last year.

He also cited the impact of five women he appointed to a department that oversees Vatican finances.

"This is a revolution because women know how the find the right way to go forward," he said.

Pope Francis also acknowledged that male chauvinism was still dominant in the Roman Catholic Church, his native Argentina and the society at large.

Puppy dog

"Women are a gift. God did not create man and then give him a puppy dog to play with. He created man and woman," he said.

"A society that is not capable of (allowing women to have greater roles) does not move forward.”

Pope Francis also condemned female genital mutilation (FGM) as ‘criminal’ and wondered why the world today, bring to an end the tragedy of infibulation to young girls.

“But equality between men and women is still not universally found and there are these incidents where women are second class or less.”

“A society that is unable to put women in her (rightful) place does not move forward.”

The pope has also appointed women as deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums, deputy head of the Vatican Press Office, as well as four women as councillors to the Synod of Bishops, which prepares major meetings.

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