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The television version of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall is the latest account to challenge St Thomas More’s reputation as a courageous defender of the rights of conscience. Was he, in truth, a liberal icon, a religious fanatic or something in between?
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Maria Voce, president of the worldwide Focolare Movement, has suggested the establishment of a mixed commission of men and women to help advise the Pope, similar to his C8 Council of Cardinals.
“I am not thinking of an F8 [“Fem Eight”], but a sort of eight where both men and women are represented … a body of that type would thrill me,” she said in an interview in the November issue of the Catholic magazine Città Nuova.
The 76-year-old civil and canon lawyer, and Focolare president since 2008, did not suggest that women become priests or cardinals. But she argued that they could have a voice in the election of the Bishop of Rome by participating in meetings that the cardinals hold immediately before a conclave.
Lucetta Scaraffia, a regular editorialist for L’Osservatore Romano, endorsed the views in a front-page article in the paper’s 11-12 November edition. She said that Ms Voce was “certainly the most eminent woman in the Catholic world as president of its most widespread movement”.
Focolare boasts some two million adherents in 182 countries. Ms Scaraffia said that its president was an “authoritative and moderate figure” and, because of this, she was poised to show that the “just requests for a true recognition of the feminine presence in the Church” were “not only coming from radical groups in favour of women’s ordination”.