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Could a Woman With A Family Be the Head of the Pontifical Council for the Family?

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz - published on 09/22/14

Q&A with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family

Pope Francis and the group of nine cardinals who are advising him on the reform of the Curia are seriously considering the topic of lay people and the family.  This means that their reflections consider, among other things, the question of women’s place in society and in the Church, and youth and lay movements.

This Tuesday in the Vatican, on the occasion of the announcement of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia for September 22-27, 2015, we had a conversation with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family about the role of laity in the Church or in running an important body of the Roman Curia.

How can the Catholic Church support lay people so that they can have an active role in current reflections on the challenges that families face?

It is indispensible for us to invite families to enter the life of the Church more fully.  To achieve this, we have to say: Young people, feel more audacious about your commitment! Parents, don’t forget your role as educators! Don’t expect to be happy if you keep a closed attitude. Grandparents shouldn’t be cast aside, but rather discovered for their importance in passing down cultural heritage. This would be what we could call a springtime of the family, beginning with a new commitment in the Church.

Are there obstacles to this commitment?

I wish families would free themselves from “familism” and that Christian communities would leave behind “clericalism.” Therefore, what is needed is osmosis. We need to make events in parishes and dioceses more dynamic in order for family members to be more open to the world and to the Church.

What is the role of women?

We need to open our eyes to a more active role for women.  Many times women’s role is marginalized.  Their wisdom gets isolated. I say this looking at the real situation in various countries. There is no doubt that women should be given a more powerful role in every area of human life: in politics, in the Church, in administration, in management. This is why a revival of the family is indispensible.

Is the Catholic Church ready to accept a father or mother with a family as the head of a department, for example the Pontifical Council for Families?

There is definitely a need for something like that.  My focus will be to create a greater presence of families in the Pontifical Council for Families, more than there is today.  There is no doubt. I think that it is necessary for lay people to be in more leadership roles in a department like the one for the family.

So, can we expect someone to be appointed?

Definitely, in senior positions.  But the structure of the Church isn’t directly applicable to ordinary social structures.  When Gregory the Great, Saint Ambrose, and Saint Cyprian realized that they were to be made bishops, they ran away.  So, this rush to hold leadership positions—I would slow it down.

Ari Waldir Ramos Diazis a Rome correspondent for Aletiea. This article was originally published in the September 17 issue of Aleteia’s Spanish edition.

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