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EL ESPECTADOR

Where Pope Francis Has Failed: On Women's Equality

Nuns in St. Peter's Square
Nuns in St. Peter's Square
Juan Carlos Botero

BOGOTA — It is no easy task trying to talk about the errors of Pope Francis. The achievements of Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio, both in words and deeds, have been frankly quite startling.

Acts of humility by the Supreme Pontiff have had a tremendous public impact, like kneeling to wash and kiss the feet of prisoners, including a Muslim woman, or officially recognizing the Palestinian state. He has generously stretched his hands out to atheists and raised it unstintingly to excommunicate the Italian mafia.

Before ongoing, eternal doubts on homosexuality, instead of stating an opinion and calling it an "abomination" as the Bible does and as popes have done for centuries, he responded with a more inclusive and understanding attitude. "Who am I to judge?" he said.

He has contributed to the renewal of ties between the United States and Cuba, and denounced the economic model of capitalism that offers no compassion for the less fortunate. He eschews the pomp that power bestows and lives in modesty and simplicity, asking his colleagues to renounce the deceptive lure of luxury to devote themselves to the needy.
He has not hesitated to call the massacres of Armenians "genocide," nor to cleanse the Vatican"s finances, demanding transparency in its investments. Employees suspected of corruption have been dismissed, and secret accounts used for massive money laundering revealed.
Let it be said that the pope was expected to behave just like his predecessors. The fact that he has turned out to be an exception speaks well of him and badly of the Roman Curia, where it appears people with Francis' scrupulous honesty and humility are actually very few.
So what is Pope Francis"s mistake? Sadly, it's a big one, brought to light recently when he denounced the inequality of wages between men and women. What he said was right, of course: There is no justification for paying someone less than another person to do the same job merely because of gender. In the European Union, a woman earns 16% less than her male colleagues, and in the U.S., she earns 77 cents for every dollar paid to a man.
The pope called this inequality a scandal. But if he is right, his own comments are perhaps not so much an error as an act of incoherence, since he heads one of the world's most sexist institutions. There is no reason why women should not officiate mass as they do, perfectly well, in the Episcopal Church, or become priests, cardinals, bishops and even pope.
Female leadership, so necessary and fruitful in the worlds of finance, politics, sports and design, remains banned in an institution that declares itself the defender of Christian morality. This incoherence has proved costly to the Vatican, and it is time for this humane and revolutionary pope to apply his reformism to the matter of the place of women in the Church. Only good things would follow.

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