Meeting with Nuns at the General Audience on February 7 Photo: Vatican Media

Pope on the role of women in the Church: starting point is clear, the point of arrival is in God’s hands

Prologue of Pope Francis to the book «Unmasculinize the Church? A Critical Comparison on the «Principles» of Hans Urs von Balthasar».

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 02.07.2024).- The Pauline editions have published the book «Demasculinizing the Church? A Critical Comparison on the ‘Principles’ of Hans Urs von Balthasar», a collaborative work with texts by Linda Pocher, Salesian; Father Luca Castiglioni; and Lucia Vantini. Pope Francis has written the foreword, which we offer below translated into English from the original Italian.


The presence and contribution of women to the life and growth of ecclesial communities through prayer, reflection, and action are realities that have always enriched the Church and, indeed, constitute its identity. Yet we have realized, especially during the preparation and celebration of the Synod, that we have not listened enough to the voice of women in the Church and that the Church still has much to learn from them.

It is necessary to listen to each other in order to make the Church less masculine [Italian: “‘smaschilizzare’ la chiesa”, literally “‘de-masculinize’ the Church”], because the Church is a communion of men and women who share the same faith and the same baptismal dignity. By really listening to women, we men listen to someone who sees reality from a different perspective and so we are led to revise our plans and our priorities. Sometimes, we are bewildered. Sometimes what we hear is so new and so different from our way of thinking and seeing that it seems absurd, and we feel intimidated. But this bewilderment is healthy; it makes us grow.

It takes patience, mutual respect, listening, and openness to really learn from each other and to move forward as one People of God, rich in differences but walking together.

This is precisely why I wanted to ask a woman, a theologian, to offer the Council of Cardinals a path of reflection on the presence and role of women in the Church. The starting point for this path is Hans Urs von Balthasar’s reflection on the Marian and Petrine principles in the Church, a reflection that has inspired the magisterium of recent pontificates in the effort to understand and value the different ecclesial presence of men and women.

The final destination, however, is in God’s hands. Let us pray to the Spirit to enlighten us and help us to understand, to find effective language and ways of thinking to engage the women and men of today, in the Church and in the world, so that an awareness of reciprocity and the practice of collaboration between men and women may grow.

I am pleased that through this publication, the reflections that Lucia Vantini, Luca Castiglioni, and Linda Pocher have offered to the Council of Cardinals might be made available to those who wish to participate in the synodal dialogue and deepen the theme of ecclesial relations between men and women, which is very close to my heart. These are reflections that tend to open rather than close; that provoke thinking, invite seeking, and aid praying.

This is what I desire at this point in the synodal process: that we do not tire of walking together, because only when we walk are we what we must be—the living body of the Risen One on the move, going forth, meeting our brothers and sisters, without fear, on the streets of the world. May Mary, mother of faith, accompany us on this journey!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation