If Francis wants to speak about his concern for the poor, he must also address inequality faced by women, Sr Joan Chittister told a crowd of religion scholars, teachers and clergy. But her views were contrasted by those of commentator George Weigel.
- NCR Online
Addressing a session at the annual meetings of The American Academy of Religion and The Society of Biblical Literature last weekend, Sr Chittister cited figures that indicate women represent approximately two-thirds of the world's illiterate population and two-thirds of those suffering from hunger. "Someone, somewhere has decided that women need less, women deserve less and women are worthy of less than men."
"Pope Francis has won the heart of the world by being humble, simple and pastoral -- a warm and caring face of this church, a man like Jesus who is a man of the poor," she said. "But no one can say that they are for the poor as Jesus was and do nothing, nothing, nothing for the equality of women."
Chittister, a well-known author, NCR columnist and former leader of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, spoke Saturday at a session at the annual meetings of The American Academy of Religion and The Society of Biblical Literature.
The meetings saw approximately 15,000 teachers, scholars, clergy and others gather for some 1,000 events over the five-day period. Chittister spoke at one of several events during the meetings focused on what effect Pope Francis has had globally on Catholicism, religion and society worldwide since his election to replace Pope Benedict XVI in March.
Providing a sharp contrast among other analysts at the meeting was George Weigel, the well-known biographer of Pope John Paul II who spoke with Chittister as part of a five-person panel dedicated to "Pope Francis and the State of Global Catholicism."
Saying that the first months of Francis' papacy have been "a kind of Rorschach test," Weigel said Catholics have seen in the new pope "their dreams or their fears with a clarity and conviction that frankly has little to do" with the pope's actions.
Giving 10 points about Francis' style and preferences -- calling him, among other things, someone who is a "radically converted Christian disciple," a person respectful of popular expressions of piety, and a "man of the arts" -- Weigel said the pope stands in "essential continuity" with his predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Weigel said Francis will be the pope who completes a "dramatic historic transition" in the church from a focus on the 15th-century Council of Trent to the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.