There are times when, try as I might, I have no idea what – or whom – Pope Francis is talking about. I am not alone.
I had a few requests to explain something that Francis said to a group of women, a meeting of the Centro italiano femminile. The English translation I was sent is… puzzling. [UPDATE: I think the translation came from Fishwrap HERE. To be fair, John Allen said the translation was rushed. Hey! We have all been there!]
“… mi sono rallegrato nel vedere molte donne condividere alcune responsabilità pastorali con i sacerdoti nell’accompagnamento di persone, famiglie e gruppi, come nella riflessione teologica; e ho auspicato che si allarghino gli spazi per una presenza femminile più capillare ed incisiva nella Chiesa”.
The translation I received:
“I’m happy to see many women sharing certain pastoral responsibilities in accompanying persons, families and groups, and in theological reflection,” Francis said, “and I’ve voiced hope that spaces for a feminine presence that’s more capillary and incisive [più capillare ed incisiva] in the Church will be enlarged.”
What the heck does “more capillary and incisive” mean?
It seems as if Francis wants a presence of women that is more “strand-like and cutting”. That is consistent with my experience of women religious who made our lives miserable in seminary back in the ’80s. ”Capillary and incisive”.
That, of course, is not what Francis has in mind.
He doesn’t have any time for the LCWR types, after all, whom he has warned about being “zitelle… old maids” (in the sense that they become “sterile”, not “bearing fruit” in their vocations) and evincing female machismo. There is also no indication that Francis is associating women and hierarchy.
However, capillare can mean “widespread” and incisiva can mean “effective, trenchant”.
That said, the Holy Father went on to speak about the “feminine genius”. He confirmed that their irreplaceable role in the family must not be neglected, overlooked (trascurato).
So, Francis wants women in general, in whatever role they are playing, to be fruitful. On this occasion he strongly emphasized their roles in the family.
He is not interested in women being more “strand-like and cutting”.
And former-Father Greg Reynolds of Australia is still excommunicated.