Pope Francis answered questions from reporters aboard the papal plane on November 6 after his recent four-day trip to Bahrain.
One of the questions asked was about Mahsa Amini, whose death sparked an outcry in Iran and worldwide, and whether the Pope supported the protests in the country.
Iran's morality police detained 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for not wearing her hijab “properly.” She died in police custody, causing massive demonstrations across the Islamic Republic and other countries.
Pope Francis didn't directly call out Iran or give a straightforward answer. Instead, he discussed how women in some countries are treated as second-class citizens and that the fight for women's rights worldwide remains a "continuous struggle."
"We have to tell the truth. The struggle for women's rights is a continuing struggle," he said, mentioning historical achievements such as the right to vote.
#Women must be entrusted with greater positions and responsibilities. Many calamitous decisions might have been avoided, had woman been directly involved in decision-making! We are committed to ensuring women are increasingly respected, acknowledged and involved! @iamcaritas
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 27, 2022
"We have to continue struggling for this because women are a gift. God did not create man and then give him a lapdog to play with. He created both equal, man and woman,"he added.
"A society that is not capable of (allowing women to have greater roles) does not move forward," the Pope warned.
The Pope also condemned male chauvinism, using his native country Argentina as an example. He acknowledged that male chauvinism is still predominant in many parts of the world, saying that such an attitude "kills humanity."
“A society that cancels women from public life is a society that grows poor,” Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis asks nuns “to fight” against sexism within the Catholic Church https://t.co/I178brQ4On
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 3, 2022
Aside from giving a lengthy response on women's rights, Pope Francis also called female genital mutilation a "criminal act" that must be stopped. This statement echoed his previous condemnation of the act last February during the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
While Pope Francis praised the work done by the women he appointed to senior roles in the Vatican, he did not mention any plans to ordain women as part of the clergy. The Catholic Church continues the tradition of exclusively ordaining men as priests, although conversations are happening on this issue.
"The Vatican's admittance that the teaching on women's ordination is not a consistently held belief among Catholics reveals a spirit of openness and accountability to the people of God," writes @dearmisskate of @OrdainWomen.https://t.co/1lm0wr4c18
— NCR (@NCRonline) November 1, 2022
One of the reporters also asked the Pope regarding new cases of sex abuse involving the clergy in the French church and the cover-ups that followed. While Pope Francis did not respond directly, he maintained that the Church was taking the right path and not hiding the abuse from the public. He also noted that the Church is doing everything possible to review past judgments and redo past canonical investigations.