(Dr. Christine Haiden in “Oberösterreichische Nachrichten”, www.ooen.at, 12.12.2013) 

Sometimes you simply have to imagine a matter from the opposite point of view. What would happen if the Pope of the Church – a woman, who had reserved the central charges for women, declared, the “indispensable” contribution of men in the church would be appreciated, the female theologians would have to think however more intensively, where the specifically masculine charisma could develop the best way.

Such a speech would be unthinkable. Women who presume the authority to interpret nature and tasks of men, this does not work at all – and that’s a good thing. But women should still lower their head patiently when the gentlemen of the Church assign them the place?

 It still has to be discussed more intensively about a “theology of women” – by men, is said by the Vatican. Are women themselves also asked? Pope Francis is brave. Exciting, as far as he approaches the reforms in the Catholic Church. But in my opinion he is wrong when he thinks to create profound reforms without a fundamental equality between men and women in all areas. Many structural problems of the current Church – even that “rampant clericalism” which the Pope stated – are related to the separation of the sexes. The argument that Jesus himself had wanted only men as priests, doesn’t hold out a critical theological discussion, but also puts all Christian Churches, which have a different view, to injustice.

Privileges of men however they are justified overshadow all reforms as a pre-modern relict and fundamental nuisance. Not only within the Church but also socially. As a global organization the Catholic Church has global responsibility. If she denounces our economy as “murderous” she must not remain silent on women’s rights. She is only credible however if she is a good example herself.

In many parts of the world women are still treated as second-class citizens. A Catholic church who keeps it also that way even if she means to honor women as the “all different” will be guilty. Without ill will I hope. But apparently from a fundamental misunderstanding. Men that govern everything for others as a good father are honorable but not abreast of the time. Everyone today has the right to speak for himself/herself.

It must be the basis for all Roman Catholic reforms to understand this. The signal to the whole world would be enormous and would mean a huge jump for the actual practices of equal dignity of women and men. It still remains to wish this courage to the charismatic Pope.

Dr. Christine Haiden is chief editor of “Welt der Frau”, christine.haiden@welt-der-frau.at