Pope Francis spoke out about the importance of including women’s perspectives in decision-making on Sunday, during his five-day trip to the Philippines.
“Women have much to tell us in today’s society,” the Pope said, drawing applause from the crowd at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. “Sometimes we’re too macho, and we don’t leave enough room for women.”
Pope Francis also said that women should be included because they’re able to “see things with different eyes” than men.
“Women are able to ask questions that men can’t understand,” he said.
The pope made the comments after saying that he was sad to see that the crowd at the University of Santo Tomas was mostly male. Before he spoke, he said a young girl who had been a street child before getting help from an organization that helps abandoned children asked why God allowed bad things — like falling into prostitution and drugs — to happen to her and children like her.
“She is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer,” the pope said. “She was not even able to express it in words but rather in tears.”
When the next pope paid a visit to University of Santo Tomas, Pope Francis said, “there should be more women, girls among the numbers.”
In June, Pope Francis said in an interview that women were “the most beautiful thing God has made” and that “theology cannot be done without this feminine touch.” However, he avoided directly answering whether or not he thought the Catholic church had a problem with misogyny. The pope has said, on the issue of women becoming priests, “the church has spoken and says no … That door is closed.” But he’s also said that the role of women in the Catholic church shouldn’t be limited “to altar girls or the president of charity; there must be more.”
Pope Francis’ comments at the University of Santo Tomas come about a week after he encouraged women to breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel.
“You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry,” he told mothers during the Baptism of 33 babies. The pope also discussed the difficulties poor women around the world have with feeding their children during that day’s mass. Pope Francis made similar comments on the freedom women should feel to breastfeed their babies in the Sistine Chapel during a baptism event last year.
Pope Francis has also been vocal on other issues during his time in the papacy. Last week, he spoke out on climate change, saying that he thinks the majority of it is man’s fault, and that “for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature.” Pope Francis has made a Biblican case for addressing climate change before, and he’s also spoken out on hatred against immigrants. In 2013, Pope Francis said of Gay priests: “who am I to judge…if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” He added that these priests “shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”