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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pope Francis and Isaac Asimov

Pope Francis spoke to an Italian women's group today about women's roles in the church and society. Here's a bit of what he said ...

[...] In a special way the Apostolic Letter of Blessed John Paul II Mulieres dignitatem from 1988 should be mentioned, on the dignity and vocation of the woman, a document which, in line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, recognized the moral force of the woman and her spiritual force .... I, too, have recalled the indispensable role of the woman in society, in particular with her sensitivity and intuition for the other, the weak and the defenseless ....

I’ve voiced hope that the spaces for a feminine presence that’s more capillary and incisive in the Church will be enlarged .... The gifts of delicacy, of a special sensibility and tenderness, which are a richness of the feminine spirit, represent only a genuine force for the life of the family, for the irradiation of a clime of serenity and harmony, but a reality without which the human vocation would be unrealizable.

If in the world of work and in the public sphere it’s important to have a more incisive role for the feminine genius, that role also remains essential in the ambit of the family, which for us Christians is not simply a private place, but the “domestic Church” whose health and prosperity are a prerequisite for the health and prosperity of the Church and of society itself. The presence of the women in the domestic ambit thus shows itself to be more necessary than ever, for the transmission solid moral principles to future generations and for the transmission of the faith itself ....

The gender stereotyping continues ... women and their special genius, their sensitivity, their intuition, their moral force, their delicacy, and their tenderness. I don't dispute that some women have these qualities, but I'm sure those qualities are just as extant in some men.

And what kind of "capillary and incisive" roles will there be for women in the church when the positions of deacon, priest, bishop, cardinal, and pope are disallowed? It seems obvious that even these nebulous roles the pope speaks of are subordinate in his mind to the domestic roles women hold.

The pope's belief in "women's intuition" reminded me of a story by Isaac Asimov ... Feminine Intuition ... in which a robot is programmed with women's intuition in order to help analyze astronomical data at an observatory. The robot is accidentally destroyed before its data can be downloaded, and the company that created it must call upon its former director, a woman, to help .... She solves the problem using her own version of feminine intuition - a combination of careful information gathering and astute psychological reasoning. The title of the story is thus highly ironic.

Meanwhile, in another Church, they celebrate the 70th ordination anniversary of Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman priest of the Anglican Communion.


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