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British PM's wife challenges Pope to fix sexism in Church

Cherie Blair, the Catholic wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has said that the Pope should make it a priority to rid the Church of sexism and see women as "thinkers" as well as "workers".

Mrs Blair, a practising Catholic and a senior lawyer, argued that successive Popes had promised to introduce "equality and respect for all" but this had not been achieved across the Church.

Mrs Blair's remarks follow her private visit to Rome earlier this year with her husband, an Anglican, and their children. After the trip she expressed her disappointment at the lack of women working in the Vatican Curia, the Church's equivalent of the civil service.

Delivering a lecture for The Tablet on Thursday night, she said that the Church had to introduce human rights internally if it wanted to be credible on the international stage.

"The Vatican Curia needs to learn from the Diocesan Curia throughout the world and open its doors to female participation," she said. "There is little reason why half of all Vatican curial positions could not be filled by women. It should be a main priority of the Church at all levels to break down the barriers to female participation."

Get rid of sexism, Cherie tells Pope (London Daily Telegraph 19/12/03)

22 Dec 2003