In an unusual move, Pope Francis this afternoon spoke in off the cuff remarks after the talk by Dr. Linda Ghisoni, under-secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Faith, the first woman to formally address the meeting, thanking her for her intervention. The Holy See Press Office released his remarks:

“Listening to Dr. Ghisoni I heard the Church talk about herself. That is, we all talked about the Church. In all the interventions. But this time it was the Church herself that spoke. It is not just a question of style: the feminine genius that is reflected in the Church that is a woman.

“To invite a woman to speak is not to enter the mode of an ecclesiastical feminism, because in the end every feminism ends up being a machismo with a skirt. No. Inviting a woman to speak about the wounds of the Church is to invite the Church to speak about herself, about the wounds she has. And this I think is the step that we must do very strongly: the woman is the image of the Church that is a woman, she is a bride, she is a mother. A style. Without this style we would speak of the people of God but as an organization, perhaps a trade union, but not as a family born of the Mother Church.

“The logic of Dr. Ghisoni’s thought was just that of a mother, and ended with the story of what happens when a woman gives birth to a child. It is the female mystery of the Church that is bride and mother. It is not about giving more functions to the woman in the Church – yes, this is good, but this does not solve the problem – it is about integrating woman as a figure of the Church in our thinking. And thinking also of the Church with the categories of a woman. Thank you for your testimony.”

(JFL: For what it’s worth, from the applause I have heard at the end of the various speeches, an applause meter might have declared her the winner)