“I come from a macho town. We Argentines are sexist”, said the Pope

The Pontiff made the comment while speaking of the importance of giving rights and equality to women in the press conference he gave on the flight that brought him back from Bahrain; also referred to the war in Ukraine and other issues

ROME.- On the flight that brought him back from Bahrain, as always, Pope Francis gave a press conference at ten thousand meters altitude. He answered questions ranging from the war in Ukraine and the migrant crisis to the importance of giving rights and equality to women.

It was precisely speaking of the latter that he confessed that he comes from a macho town. “We still have a long way to go because this machismo exists. I come from a macho town. Argentines are macho, always. And this is ugly, but when necessary, we go to the mothers who are the ones who solve the problems. But this machismo kills humanity,” he warned, according to the transcript of the Vatican News press conference, the Vatican portal.

Pope Francis greets journalists as he boards the plane from Rome to Manama during his visit to Bahrain on November 3, 2022.
Pope Francis greets journalists as he boards the plane from Rome to Manama during his visit to Bahrain on November 3, 2022. / Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO – POOL

The Pope, who condemned the practice of female genital mutilation, which he defined as “a tragedy,” recalled that women are a “gift.” “A society that is not capable of putting women in their place does not advance,” he assured and, in this context, highlighted how well the women he put in leading positions in the Vatican are working, a novelty of his pontificate.

I have seen that in the Vatican, things improve every time a woman enters to do a job. For example, the deputy governor of the Vatican is a woman, the deputy governor is a woman, and things have changed well,” he said, referring to the Franciscan nun Raffaella Petrini, whom he appointed a year ago as the new secretary general of the Governorate.

“In the Council for the Economy, there were six cardinals and six laymen, all men. I changed the laity and put one man and five women. And this is a revolution because women know how to find the right path, and they know how to move forward. And now I have put Marianna Mazzuccato on the Council for the Family (at the Pontifical Academy for Life ed). She is a great economist from the United States (I put her) to give this a little more humanity. Women bring their own. They don’t have to become like men. No, they are women. We need them,” he added. “And a society that cancels women from public life is a society that becomes poorer. Equal rights, yes. But also equal opportunities”, he said.

Asked about the “martyred” Ukraine, Francis said that the ” Vatican is continuously attentive, the Secretariat of State works” for possible mediation, prisoner exchanges, and preaching peace. He spoke of his great esteem for the Russian people, starting with one of his favorite writers, Fyodor Dostoevsky.

“What strikes me – that’s why I use the word “martyred” for Ukraine – is the cruelty, which is not from the Russian people, perhaps… because the Russian people are large, there are the mercenaries, soldiers who they go to war as an adventure, mercenaries… I prefer to think that way because I greatly esteem the Russian people for Russian humanism. Just think of Dostoevsky, who inspires us to this day, inspires Christians to think about Christianity,” he said. “I have great affection for the Russian people and also for the Ukrainian people. When I was eleven years old, a neighboring priest celebrated in Ukrainian and had no altar boys, and he taught me how to serve mass in Ukrainian. All these I know Ukrainian songs in their language because I learned them as a child, so I have a great affection for the Ukrainian liturgy”, he evoked. “I am in the middle of two towns that I love.”

Faced with a question about the new migrant crisis that broke out in Italy with the new right-wing government of Giorgia Meloni, which conditions the landing of desperate people, Francis reiterated the importance of countries being able to receive, accompany, promote and integrate those who arrive. But he also warned that “all countries must agree upon the migrant policy, a policy cannot be made without consensus, and the European Union must assume a policy of collaboration and aid. It cannot leave Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Spain, the responsibility of all migrants who arrive on the beaches.”