Faith and Spirituality

TRANSCRIPT: Pope Francis asks theologians ‘to make the Church less masculine’

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TRANSCRIPT: Pope Francis asks theologians ‘to make the Church less masculine’

'CHURCH IS WOMAN.' Pope Francis meets with members of the International Theological Commission at the Vatican, November 30, 2023.

Vatican Media

'The Church is woman. And if we do not know what a woman is, what the theology of a woman is, we will never understand what the Church is,' Pope Francis tells the International Theological Commission

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis delivered unscripted remarks to members of the International Theological Commission on Thursday, November 30, about the need “to make the Church less masculine” and to understand how “the Church is woman.”

The Pope made these impromptu comments after he skipped his prepared speech, which the Vatican nonetheless provided in written form, “because of my health.” Francis spoke candidly about “something about you (the International Theological Commission) that I do not like” – that women in the group are a small minority.

Below is the Vatican transcript of the Pope’s comments.

‘Impromptu words of the Holy Father’

Thank you for this visit. And thank you for your work. There is a good address here with theological matters, but because of my health it is better not to read it. I will hand it out to you.

Thank you for what you do. Theology, theological reflection, is very important. But there is something about you that I do not like; pardon my sincerity. One, two, three, four women: poor women! They are alone! Ah, excuse me, five. We must advance in this. Women have a capacity for theological reflection that is different from that of us men. It will be because I have studied the theology of a woman a great deal. I was helped by a good German woman, Hanna-Barbara Gerl, on Guardini. She had studied that history and the theology of that woman was not so deep, but it is beautiful, it is creative. And now, in the upcoming meeting of the nine Cardinals, we will reflect on the feminine dimension of the Church.

The Church is woman. And if we do not know what a woman is, what the theology of a woman is, we will never understand what the Church is. One of the great sins we have had is to “masculinize” the Church. And this is not solved by the ministerial path; that is something else. It is resolved in the mystical way, the real way. Balthasar’s thought has brought me so much light: Petrine principle and Marian principle. This can be debated, but the two principles are there. The Marian is more important than the Petrine, because there is the bride Church, the woman Church, without being masculine.

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And you will ask me: where does this discussion lead? Not only to tell you that you should have more women here – that is one thing – but to help reflect. The Church as woman, the Church as a bride. And this is a task that I ask of you, please. To make the Church less masculine.

And thank you for what you do. I am sorry, I have spoken to much and it hurt, but now sitting as we are, we can pray the Lord’s Prayer together, each in his own language, and then I will give the blessing.

Recitation of the Lord’s Prayer

Blessing

And pray for me. Pray for, not against, because this work is not easy. Thank you. – Paterno R. Esmaquel II/Rappler.com

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