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OpEd: Papal makeover of church still lacking a woman’s touch

Give Pope Francis credit for reaching out to gays and atheists. But why are women still invisible?
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Gord Woodward, September 13, 2013 1:57:15 PM

Who knew Pope Francis was a fan of those renovation shows on TV?

In his first few months on the job the guy has been the star of Extreme Makeover: The Vatican Edition, musing about a long-overdue reno on the Catholic Church that could bring it into, oh, the 19th century. (Hey, we’ll take whatever progress we can get.)

Since taking over The Big Hat the pope has broadcast some progressive messages. He won’t judge gays. Celibacy for priests may be up for discussion. And now he’s even opening the door a crack for atheists to enter that previously-exclusive Great Room called Heaven.

Whew! Ty Pennington’s crew on TV worked miracles in a week but that’s nothing compared with what this pope has accomplished in a few short months. (Mind you, his Boss got a lot done in just seven days too. He must have had better tradespeople.)

By reaching out to atheists this week Pope Francis fuels hope that the church is ready for reforms — though the target audience is understandably wary after centuries of punitive rejection. Gays have long been turned off by Mass hysteria. Atheists have long felt that they are the only sober people in the car yet have never been allowed to drive.

Rather than disqualify the faithless because they want to stock the library with non-fiction, the pope has told atheists that “God’s mercy” is available if they “abide by their own conscience.” It’s not exactly a peace offering but it does at least acknowledge the church’s willingness to see grey where previously there was only black and white (a colour combination that may be striking for flooring but one that, on a wall, can make you nauseous).

It’s a good, and safe, place to start on an image makeover. Making nice with atheists is a small project that boosts curb appeal without tinkering with support beams. It won’t break the bank. It can be done quickly, so as to not try the patience of the building’s occupants.
Now we can hope that the pope’s makeover mood leads him to tackle the most glaring design defect in his castle: the lack of equality for women.

Fix This (Catholic) House shows promise when it softens the church’s stance on atheists and gays (and we’ll become true believers when “Gay is Okay” T-shirts are handed out at the grand unveiling in the show’s final minutes). But ratings will sky-rocket when a pope rips up the floorboards to remove the foundation of discrimination against a gender that accounts for more than half of the world’s population.

If His Holiness truly wants to live in a modern home, he needs to revise his religion’s building code that is thousands of years out of date. The ordination of women would greatly enhance the building’s structural integrity.

Like most remodelling projects, this one is going to kick up a lot of dust and take time to complete. But, as with most makeovers we see on TV, it will deliver extreme results.

Above: Pope Francis Papal Audience, St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Rome, Italy – 04 Sep 2013
Image credit: REX/AGF/CP Images

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