THE BLOG
07/30/2013 05:52 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2013

Pope Francis on Women Priests: Who Am I to Judge?

Yesterday, in a discussion with press on the papal flight returning from Brazil, Pope Francis was asked for his views on women in the priesthood.

"If someone has a vagina and she searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" he replied.

Vatican scholars -- and much of the world -- were taken aback by the Pope's candor as previous heads of the Catholic Church have resisted even using such a direct word to describe women, especially in the context of anointing them to lead parishes.

However, although they described his language as an effort to embrace the world in a global dialogue with the Church, it was reiterated that this does not change Francis' assertion that being a woman is an additional flaw beyond original sin but that they should certainly be welcomed in the Church.

Still, it greatly contrasts from his predecessors, including Pope Benedict XVI, who stated in 2005 that being a woman is a "strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil" and an "objective disorder."

He then added, "I mean, come on... they bleed every month, amirite?!"

The Church has long been criticized for its exclusion of women from the priesthood as it demonstrates that women lack the spiritual capacity to lead flocks of the faithful, certainly a sentiment at odds with Jesus Christ who commissioned Mary Magdalene to announce his resurrection to the rest of the apostles, a legal task that was granted to only men in those days.

Christ also was the first religious leader in that culture to openly welcome women into his roving congregations and lay hands on them for prayer and spiritual healing.

Many scholars have asserted that Magdalene was the closest follower to Christ and consider her his right-hand rather than Peter or Paul, who wrote that women should be obedient and silent in church.

Then, there's the matter of modern contradictions: that women can lead children and individual adults in spiritual teachings but not entire parishes, that they can be canonized as saints for beautifully and powerfully expressing God's love in a sacrificial manner (and for quite some time) but not express His teachings to a global audience with the authority of the Papacy.

The primary message, regardless of phrasing, seems to be that although all genders are equal in the eyes of God, cisgender men are simply more equal than the rest.

This tends to filter to political powers who restrict basic, nonessential things like, you know, birth control or abortion or women's equality in general.

But isn't it great that Francis believes the sin of womanhood is as redeemable as other sins?

Progress, folks. Progress.