20 February 2020, The Tablet

A ‘frozen’ idea of the feminine

Querida Amazonia

A ‘frozen’ idea of the feminine

Pope Francis poses with a group of women during a general audience in St Peter’s Square
PA/IPA MilestoneMedia


Pope Francis has responded to last year’s Synod on the Amazon with an eloquent reflection on the future of our planet and exploitation of its poorest peoples. But, as a leading feminist and theologian argues, it is marred by a blindness to the role of women as partners in ecological conversion

Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia (“Beloved Amazonia”) has caused consternation in the Catholic media, including social media. Conservatives are crowing that liberals have had their come-uppance: he makes no mention of married priests or of women deacons. Liberals are wringing their hands about a missed opportunity to institute some overdue reforms. And in my Catholic women’s networks, many are angry and hurt. This is the last straw. They can no longer be in a Church so obstinately determined to keep them in their place. They feel excluded even from the dialogue; barely even noticed.

Why has this passionate and lyrical vision for a future world free from corporate domination, living in harmony with nature, and inspired by the cultures and values of the indigenous peoples of Amazonia provoked such widely divergent reactions? I want to reflect on why some women feel such distress, but first let me make a few general observations.

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