Where are Pope Francis’ Binders Full of Women?

Today, on International Women’s Day, Pope Francis named the members of his new and very influential “Council for the Economy,” which he recreated on February 24.  On this council are eight cardinals and seven laypersons.  Of the the seven laypersons, five are from Europe (France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Malta), 1 from Asia (Singapore), and 1 from US/Canada.  There are no women.

Is this news?  Part of me says no, but the Holy Father has been seeming to really make a big deal about women finding leadership roles lately…just three days ago, in a interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera (translated by Catholic News Service), Francis said

It is true that women can and must be more present in the places of decision-making in the Church. But this I would call a promotion of the functional sort. Only in this way you don’t get very far. We must rather think that the Church has a feminine article : ‘La’. She is feminine in her origin. The great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar worked a lot on this theme: the Marian principle guides the Church aside the Petrine. The Virgin Mary is more important than any bishop and any apostle. 

Now, if any of our readers know von Balthasar, they know that this language is directly in line with Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s view of the female place in the church.  However, the Pope did end with:

The theological deepening is in process. Cardinal Rylko, with the Council for the Laity, is working in this direction with many women experts in different areas.

Clearly Cardinal Rylko does not think that female expertise extends to economics.  Which leads me to ask: where are all those binders full of women that Mitt Romney had access to??  Has anyone made any binders full of catholic women for Cardinal Rylko?

No, seriously, it’s a very important thing to do.  Romney was not joking when he made the widely-insulted line in the presidential debate.  Binders full of capable female professionals help men in power to realize that there really are lots of women just as qualified as the men he was about to appoint.  So, for example, I’m sure that this list of the top female economists in the world includes some very well qualified Catholic women.  Unfortunately, it is quite clear that this did not happen for Francis’ first lay council to be appointed.

In the end, on International Women’s Day, of all days, the Catholic faithful learned once again that women experts do not extend to fields like economics.  Instead, the Vatican is sponsoring a women-focused “Voices of Faith” conference a few doors down from the Pope’s residence…which started with, well, see for yourself:


6 responses to “Where are Pope Francis’ Binders Full of Women?

    • Thanks for the comment! I don’t think there a real link there, though. I imagine his return of explicitly mentioning “the devil” has more to do with his Latin American origins–as opposed to Benedict or John Paul–and the more common use of such language as a bishop and cardinal. Thanks for reading!

  1. Having spent most of yesterday offline, I missed all of this. Today, I so dislike having to “like” this post for the point of the story, but I am grateful – and do like – that you brought it to our attention. Ouch indeed!

    • Unlike you Fran I was online last night and saw this pass over of the women again. My thought was …”so what else is new!” I wondered how long it would take for someone else…and this time, a male too, to notice that omission and post. I keep waiting and hoping, and with Elizabeth Johnson recall “Hang on Mandela” and thus “Hang on women”. Our time will come….but like spring it still seems so far away! Thanks to John Slattery for your reflections.

  2. Thanks, John, for the insightful note on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Continuing to point out the disproportionate representation of men over women in Church leadership, only 6 of the 29 active academics in the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (http://www.pass.va/content/scienzesociali/en/academicians/ordinary.html) are women and not one among them an economist. Then again, the president of that organization is the venerable Mary Ann Glendon, appointed to that post by Pope John Paul II in 2004. That might be considered a start.

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