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Women are not guests, but full participants in church life, pope says

February 13, 2015
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY – Saying he knows the history of the subjugation of women continues to have a negative impact on how women are treated, Pope Francis called for greater roles for women in the church and for greater assistance and workplace flexibility to ensure they can make the best choices for themselves and their families.

Pope Francis told the Pontifical Council for Culture Feb. 7 that its study of women’s cultures was a topic “close to my heart,” and that he fully recognizes the need “to study new criteria and methods to ensure women feel they are not guests, but full participants in the various spheres of the life of society and the church.”

“This challenge can no longer be postponed,” he said.

The preparatory document for the meeting said that in the West, more and more women between the ages of 20 and 50 are leaving the church. Many have “reached places of prestige within society and the workplace, but have no corresponding decisional role nor responsibility” within the church community.

Pope Francis told the council – whose members are all cardinals, bishops, priests and laymen – “I am convinced of the urgency of offering space to women in the life of the church and to welcoming them, taking into account specific and changing cultural and social sensitivities.”

“A more widespread and incisive female presence in the community is hoped for 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,” he said.

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