An unreal void

An unreal void

Francis at Lenten retreat © Osservatore Romano/Handout

The pope has been taken to prayer by his retreat leader because of the lack of women in the Vatican leadership. If Jesus asked him, "Do you see this woman?", then he would have to answer, "No, Lord, here I see only men".

Italian priest Ermes Ronchi said this, according to Vatican Radio, in a meditation for the pope and his senior staff in Ariccia near Rome. "We must take note that here is a void that does not correspond to the reality of humanity and the Church," Ronchi continued. On the occasion of International Women's Day on Tuesday, the clergyman recalled that many women had followed and served Jesus.

Francis had said several times that he could envision women in Vatican leadership positions. So far, however, the Vatican authorities continue to be led exclusively by men. Ronchi said the Holy Spirit distributes his gifts "without looking at the sex of men".

Transparent handling of finances

A more transparent approach to church assets has also been a theme of the Lenten retreat of Pope Francis and his senior leaders.

The Catholic Church "must not be afraid of transparency," urged Italian priest Ermes Ronchi, who is leading the retreat in Ariccia. Only those who answer transparently and clearly to the question about their own possessions are "truthful". The strong fixation of clergy on money particularly hurt the faithful, said Ronchi, who also works as a TV host.

Retreat in Albanian mountains

Francis and his senior staff have been in a traditional Lenten retreat in the Alban Hills, 30 kilometers southeast of Rome, until Friday. The midweek general audience in St. Peter's Square was therefore cancelled. The retreat leader also called for a global culture of sharing.

The word "love" in the Gospel can also be translated as "sharing," Ronchi said. If the West wants to "keep its bread and fish, its goods, to itself," then the entire world is starving, Ronchi said. In doing so, he alluded to the Gospel of the miraculous multiplication of bread. It is not a question of increasing the world's food, but of distributing it and beginning with oneself.

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