RELIGION
02/02/2015 12:56 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2015

Vatican Removes Questionable Video Promoting Women's Conference

The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture will meet to discuss "the life of women" during a Feb. 4-7 conference.

The conference's aim is to unpack "women's cultures" with four sessions looking at the meaning of equality versus difference, "generativity" beyond maternity, the female body and women's roles in the church. To promote and gather resources for the conference, the Vatican invited women around the world to post a one-minute video online speaking on their experience as women, accompanied by the hashtag #LifeofWomen.

A promotional video introducing the campaign was posted to the Vatican's website over the Christmas holiday and drew criticism from both conservative corners of the church as well as feminist and women's rights voices. Following ridicule in North America, the Vatican removed the English version of video from its website.

The Associated Press writes:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican's culture minister acknowledged Monday that his office must expand its horizons after a promotional video for a Vatican conference on women featuring a sexy Italian actress was so ridiculed in North America it was taken down.

The video featured actress Nancy Brilli asking women to contribute a 60-second clip of their lives to be broadcast at this week's plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The video was the brainchild of 15 professional women — all but one of them Italian — chosen by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi to advise him on the agenda for "Women's Cultures: Equality and Difference."

Despite the backlash, some individuals and groups took the opportunity to respond to the Vatican's call. The Women's Ordination Conference used the hashtag to upload videos and photographs highlighting the inability of women to enter Catholic clergy.

Catholic columnist Jamie Manson discussed other issues raised by the Vatican's conference in a recent article, notably the shortage of women's voices in planning the event. She writes:

According to the Pontifical Council for Culture's website, the idea for the theme came out of "some internal think-tank sessions and research" by the dicastery's members and consultors. One wonders what those conversations sounded like, given that the members are 14 cardinals (including Cardinals Gerhard Müller and Angelo Scola), 14 bishops, and four "men of culture," and the consultors are 27 laymen and seven laywomen.

Women with access to a computer to see the Vatican's message in December, Manson writes, had just one week to send their video with 60 seconds-worth of reflection on what it means to be a woman. A sampling of these videos were then chosen to be shown at the conference, open only to members and consultors of the Pontifical Council.

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