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Feminists embrace Vatican's declaration

The Federal Government's sex discrimination commissioner Pru Goward greeted the Vatican document on feminism and the role of women and work, with the comment that it is "a small step for man, but a great step forward for womankind".

ABC TV's 7:30 Report last night led its analysis by pointing out that while the letter attacks feminists who promote conflict between the sexes, it also stresses: "Women should be present in the world of work", in positions of responsibility and "not considered from the sole perspective of physical procreation".

Ms Goward said: "You look around the Australian workforces, you still see how difficult so many women find it to combine work and family and how little support there really is. How difficult it is for a manager, for example, to get part-time work.

"How difficult it is for a woman working on an assembly line to be able to ring her child when it's homesick for the day to make sure that the child is well. To get a couple of hours off at lunchtime to go to a school sports day. Those sorts of flexibilities are still a long way away for a lot of women and actually fathers in the workforce."

The 7:30 Report said that the words were hailed by some Australian feminists as somewhat belated recognition by the Vatican that women who want to participate in the workforce should not be discouraged - something, they say, that more Australian men in positions of power should now recognise.

Cardinal George Pell said: "For those women who would like to stay at home with their children, especially before school, and are unable to do so for financial reasons, we encourage governments and other agencies to do what they can to make that possible."

Jesuit biblical scholar Fr Brendan Byrne admitted that it is perceived as "coming from a group of male clerics and therefore there is always a bit of a sense that they are telling women how they should feel and think and how they are". But he said that there is "an element of very considerable advance".

Feminists embrace Vatican's declaration (ABC TV 7:30 Report 2/8/04)

Vatican affirms feminine values in church and in society (Commission for Australian Catholic Women)
Catholic Church recognises women in the workplace (ABC Radio AM 2/8/04)
Vatican supports women in the workplace but condemns feminism (ABC Radio The World Today 2/8/04)
Vatican document on women causes confusion (ABC Radio PM 2/8/04)/a>
Catholic Church recognises women in the workplace (ABC Radio AM 2/8/04)
Vatican: "feminism leads to gay marriage" ( 2/8/04)
Fury over Vatican blaming feminism for breakdown of family (Belfast Telegraph 2/8/04)
Feminism blurs sex differences, says church document (The Scotsman 2/8/04)
Catherine Pepinster: The Vatican should practice the feminism it preaches (The Independent 2/8/04)
Fury over Vatican blaming feminism for breakdown of family (The Independent 2/8/04)
Vatican says battle of sexes not part of God's design (Catholic News Service 31/7/04)
USCCB praises Vatican document on collaboration between men and women (Catholic News Agency 2/8/04)
A woman's place is to wait and listen, says the Vatican (The Observer 1/8/04)
Vatican letter on collaboration of men and women (Independent Catholic News 2/8/04)
Letter on collaboration of men and women (Vatican Information Service 31/7/04)
Text - Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World (Vatican Information Service 31/7/04)
Vatican affirms feminine values (CathNews 2/8/04)

3 Aug 2004