Female Theologians as “strawberries on the cake,” Francis says.

I try to be tolerant of others’ metaphors. After all, who knows where in the culture – or even a person’s recent past – such things come from? Talk to someone about strawberry shortcake and some inane metaphor employing those words may well appear shortly in their mouths. Still, Pope Francis seems very politically skilled in his speech, but also surrounded constantly by an exclusively male clergy. It is just too possible he thought women would enjoy his cute expression, one making them a sweet addition to the substance of the cake.

Maureen Dowd draws out some of the implications of Francis and the lack of women in the clergy:

Yet his very coolness is what makes his reign so hazardous. Watching the rapturous crowds and gushing TV anchors on his American odyssey, we see “the Francis Effect.” His magnetic, magnanimous personality is making the church, so stained by the vile sex abuse scandal, more attractive to people — even though the Vatican stubbornly clings to its archaic practice of treating women as a lower caste.

Pope Francis would be the perfect pontiff — if he lived in the 19th century. But how, in 2015, can he continue to condone the idea that women should have no voice in church decisions?

In a scandal that cascaded for decades with abuses and cover-ups, the church was revealed to be monstrously warped in its attitudes about sex and its sense of right and wrong.

Yet shortly after he was elected, Francis flatly rejected the idea that the institution could benefit from opening itself to the hearts and minds of women. Asked about the issue of female priests, he replied, “The church has spoken and says no,” adding, “That door is closed.”

Francis preaches against the elites while keeping the church an elite boys’ club.

As he arrived to say Mass on an altar designed by students outside the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the pope was surrounded by hundreds of white-robed male bishops, male priests and a sea of seminarians …

I so wish Dowd were wrong.

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