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Cardinal Muller on Women in the Church

Cardinal Gerhard Muller Cardinal Gerhard Muller

During a recent interview published in L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) revealed the Pope's plans to expand the role of women in the Church and said "we are not women gobblers."

According to Vatican Insider, the interview was conducted by noted Italian historian Lucetta Scaraffia and touched on a variety of subjects pertinent to women including the role and identity of women in the Church as well as the ongoing problems with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

During the interview, Cardinal Muller revealed that Pope Francis intends to nominate an increased number of women to the International Theological Congregation, a group that assists the Holy See and particularly the CDF in the investigation of doctrinal issues that are of great importance to the Magisterium.

Currently, there are thirty people who serve for five years in this group, including two women - Germany's Barbara Hallensleben (professor of Dogmatic Theology and Ecumenism at the Faculty of Theology in Fribourg, Switzerland) and Sister Sara Butler (professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake - Mundelein Seminary – in Chicago, US). The number of women is expected to rise from five to six in the next term, which begins this year.

During their discussion, "Müller underlined that the female presence in the Church needed to be recognized within its own specific context, it should not be an imitation of the male model. He stressed that the Church needs to be like a mother, not an institution, because an institution cannot love but a mother can," the Insider reports.

Cardinal Muller also brought up the subject of the ongoing issue with the LCWR with whom he is involved in "complex negotiations."

He stressed "we need to bear in mind that they [the LCWR] do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association. We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

He added: “Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out. We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

The interview was published in the Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano, in its new monthly supplement entitled, Women, Church, World.

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