Women should be honoured, and also be considered for leadership roles in the Vatican: Pope

Pope Francis began the new year with a call for the dignity of women to be honored — not exploited for profit and pornography — in 2020.

“How many times is the woman’s body sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, profit, pornography, exploited as a surface to be used,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Basilica Jan. 1.

“If we want a better world, which is a house of peace and not a war zone, we have to care for the dignity of every woman,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said that our level of humanity can be judged by how we treat a woman’s body, “the most noble flesh in the world” and “the culmination of creation.”

“Women are sources of life. Yet they are continually offended, beaten, raped, coaxed into prostitution and to kill the life that occurs in their womb. Any violence inflicted on women is a profanation of God, born of a woman,” the pope said.

In his homily for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Pope Francis said that women must be honored and respected.

He said that today’s world humiliates motherhood by only valuing economic productivity, when women embody the “purpose of creation itself — the generation and custody of life.”

“When women can transmit their gifts, the world finds itself more united and more peaceful. Therefore, an achievement for women is an achievement for all humanity,” Pope Francis said.

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“So let’s start the year in the sign of Our Lady, a woman who has woven the humanity of God,” he urged.

Pope Francis said that the Church rediscovers her unity in Mary as “the enemy of human nature, the devil, instead tries to divide it, putting differences, ideologies, and partisan thoughts and camps in the foreground.”

The pope asked everyone in St. Peter’s Basilica to pray together acclaiming “Holy Mother of God” three times.

“We children today invoke the Mother of God, who unites us as a believing people. O Mother, generate hope in us, bring unity to us. Woman of salvation, we entrust you this year, keep it in your heart,” he said.

Pope Francis: more women are needed in positions of leadership in the Vatican.

“We must move forward to include women in advisory positions, also in government, without fear,” Pope Francis said a couple of months ago  in a meeting with the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

“Yes, of course, also as heads of dicasteries,” the pope said, adding that he had considered two women for the appointment  of the new prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy,  which  post ultimately went to Spanish Jesuit Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves.

Pope Francis said that it is important to always remember: “The place of women in the Church is not just as functionaries.”

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“Women’s advice is very important,” he said. “The role of women in ecclesial organization, in the Church, goes further and we must work on this as well because a woman is the image of ‘Mother Church.’”

Pope Francis commended the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life for having two women under-secretaries in their leadership. Both women are married with children.

The pope told the Vatican dicastery — created in 2016 to promote the pastoral care of the family and the mission of the lay faithful — not to “clericize the laity.”

He reflected: “So many times it happened in the other diocese [Buenos Aires], a parish priest came and told me: ‘I have a wonderful lay person, he knows how to do everything, everything. Do we make him a deacon?’”

Francis lamented that too often he sees permanent deacons become “first-class altar boys or second-class priests” rather than “custodians of service.”

“This, on clericalization, is an important point,” he said.

The pope told the dicastery staff to “feel with the heart of the Church,” and to move from thinking from a local perspective to a universal perspective.

“The dicastery of which you are a part should, above all else, help the many disciples of Christ to live in daily life in conformity with the baptismal grace they have received,” he said.

“There are so many lay faithful in the world who, living their faith with humility and sincerity, become great lights for those who live next to them,” Pope Francis said.