Some paragraphs of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium are helpful in shedding light on what the Pope means when he speaks about valuing women’s role in the Church. But it also shows how that the extravagant and highly clericalist idea of consecrating women bishops is light years away from Francis’ vision of things. Francis goes further than stressing his rejection of the consecration of female bishops, which John Paul II reiterated in his Apostolic Letter “Ordinatio sacerdotalis” of May 1994 (one of the briefer and denser documents of his pontificate): he adds some reflections on service and power.
Most importantly, Francis writes that “the Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood.”
“I readily acknowledge,” the pope adds, “that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace” and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures.”