"Please, let it be a fruitful chastity, a chastity that generates sons and daughters in the church. The consecrated woman is a mother, must be a mother and not an old maid [or "spinster"]. ... Forgive me for speaking this way, but the motherhood of consecrated life, its fertility, is important."
"It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church. I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of 'female machismo' ["machismo in gonnella," he said in Italian, or "masculinity in a skirt"] because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo."
5. "Europe is now a 'grandmother,' no longer fertile and vibrant."
"In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a 'grandmother,' no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction."
6. Woman theologians "are the strawberries on the cake!"
"I would like to note, in the context of the increasingly diverse composition of the Commission, the greater presence of women -- still not enough. ... They are the strawberries on the cake, but we want more!"
7. "A church that seems more like a spinster than a mother"
"When the church does not [evangelize], then the church stops herself, is closed in on herself, even if she is well-organized, has a perfect organizational chart, everything's fine, everything's tidy -- but she lacks joy, she lacks peace, and so she becomes a disheartened church, anxious, sad, a church that seems more like a spinster than a mother, and this church doesn't work, it is a church in a museum. The joy of the Church is to give birth."
Bridget Mary's Response: Pope Francis, whom I love and admire, has a major problem with women. He wants an inclusive church where no one is left behind. Therefore he must eliminate negative stereotypes about women in his speech such as "A church that seems more like a spinster than a mother."
My advice to Pope Francis: Invite a wide variety of women to the Vatican for an open dialogue. Read books by feminist, mujerista, and womanist theologians. Appoint women to top jobs in the Vatican. Listen to and reflect on the life and faith experiences, hopes and dreams of women in the church today including women priests. If you want a more inclusive church, treat women as equals. If you want a deeper understanding of women, then invite women into your life now. We are your sisters! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org