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Pope calls for a more widespread female presence in Church

A woman and a child take a selfie photo with Pope Francis (PA)

Pope Francis has called for a more widespread and incisive female presence in the Church.

In an address to members of the Pontifical Council for Culture on Saturday he said that a “more widespread and incisive female presence” in the Church “is desirable, so that we can see many women involved in pastoral responsibilities, in the accompaniment of persons, families and groups, as well as in theological reflection.”

According to Vatican Radio, the Pope said he is “convinced of the urgency of offering spaces to women in the life of the Church… taking into account the specific and changing cultural and social sensitivities.”

The members of the Pontifical Council for Culture met from February 4 to 7, for their plenary assembly. The focus of the annual plenary was ‘Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference’.

The Pope went on to emphasise the “irreplaceable role of women in the family” and that while they should be enouraged to work, their “presence and preferential attention for the family” must also be upheld.

Women must not be left alone to carry the burden of deciding between the family and an effective presence in public life, he said.

“Rather,” he continued, “all institutions, including the ecclesial community, are called to ensure freedom of choice for women, so that they have the possibility to take on social and ecclesial responsibilities in a way that is in harmony with family life.”

The Pope also condemned the mistreatment of the female body in the form of domestic violence and human trafficking.

He said: “The female body is unfortunately, not infrequently, attacked and disfigured, even by those who should be guardians and companions in life.”

“The many forms of slavery, of commodification, of mutilation of women’s bodies, oblige us therefore to work to defeat this form of degradation, which reduces (a woman’s body) to a mere object to sell on various markets.”