Pope Francis spoke to a group of students at the University of Santo Tomas, in Manila, on Sunday and told them how men should treat women. From a Catholic devout enough to be elected pope, we might expect Francis to say that women should remain silent and submit to men, and tell men that they’re the kings of the castle and that they rule women. But he didn’t. Instead, he proved — yet again — that he’s among the most progressive popes, and said that men need to stop with the chauvinism and actually listen to women.
According to ABS-CBN News, he made note of the fact that four of the five people who’d asked him questions were male, and said:
Women have much to tell us in today’s society. At times we men are too ‘machista.’
(We) don’t allow room for women but women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.
Different points of view are often necessary to find the best solution to a given problem, and also for keeping minds open. People who all think alike tend to get tunnel vision. Pope Francis is right in that women and men see things differently. Allowing women to contribute, and listening to their ideas, can bring things to light in a way that men alone wouldn’t think of.
His comments came because he felt that women were badly underrepresented at the rally, according to NBC News. He actually told the assembled students that, when the next pope comes to visit, they should have more women present.
The Catholic Church, and its hierarchy (particularly the stodgier crowd), do tend to marginalize women because the Bible marginalizes women. Just a few days ago, U.S. News & World Report published an op-ed about Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and what he says about men and women. Burke believes that radical feminists have marginalized men in the church. He actually said:
I think there has been a great confusion with regard to the specific vocation of men in marriage and of men in general in the Church during the past 50 years or so. It’s due to a number of factors, but the radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized. Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men.
So, in light of this and other practices in the Catholic Church that marginalize women, it’s nice to see Pope Francis asking for more female representation at rallies, and saying that women do, indeed, count, and count for a lot.