NCR's new blog series "5 minutes with Francis" poses the question: If you managed to meet up with Pope Francis during his U.S. visit -- and you had his full, undivided attention for five minutes -- what would you say to him?
I would thank him for turning around the lumbering old wreck of the Good Ship Catholicism that has been floundering for 40 years in muddy seas of regression, and for giving us hope that the promises of Vatican II may one day be fulfilled. Even if he is unable to make significant changes to Curial politics and positions, and even if no doctrine is modified during his reign, I'd still express gratitude that he has made the Gospel come alive in love, mercy and service, after being buried under tradition, law and rubrics for so long.
I would then ask him to consider the church's perennial history of misogyny, which is built into its very foundations. Women are not a sub-species of men. We share a common humanity and common baptism with men and should therefore share the opportunity to be considered for ministerial service and leadership in the institutional church.
I'd beg him to consider the advances women have made in developed countries in the past 200 years, including voting rights, rights of inheritance, the rights to be considered eligible for education, employment, advancement within employment, elected and appointed political office, and inclusion in every profession -- except ordination within the Roman Catholic church. I'd ask that he try to move beyond his own cultural background and religious formation biases and try to see women for the qualified, independent, capable, worthy individuals we are -- completely apart from our biological role that we must be able to accept or deny as we choose.
He has made some powerful pro-woman statements during his papacy but, except for obvious tokenism, has not made any significant appointments that truly include women. This is a male church with its foundational documents, doctrine, traditions and dogma all formed without the benefit of women, thus creating only a half vision of Jesus' church -- a very limited vision indeed. We don't need a "theology of women" nearly as much as we need ongoing development of a theology of humanity including women. Francis himself has stressed wholeness and holiness of the traditional family that includes a man and woman at its core. Why should the family of God as church be bereft of the feminine side? It is a huge flaw, a huge lack that can and must be remedied.
What would you say during five minutes with Pope Francis? Pick one subject, and send us a brief note (300-400 words max) about the subject, and what you would say. Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.