Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pope Calls Gender Wage Gap 'Pure Scandal.' but Does He Practice What He Preaches?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pope Calls Gender Wage Gap 'Pure Scandal.' but Does He Practice What He Preaches?

Article excerpt

In comments widely covered by media, Pope Francis championed women's employment and equal pay, calling wage disparities between men and women "pure scandal."

But a closer look at the Vatican's hiring practices suggests the Pope may have some work to do in his own backyard.

"Why is it taken for granted that women must earn less than men?" the Pope told tens of thousands of people at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square. "No! They have the same rights. The discrepancy is a pure scandal," he said, adding that Catholics must "decisively support the right to equal pay for equal work."

The 78-year-old Pope's comments on wage equality were actually part of a wider reflection on the role of marriage in society. But it was his comments about equal pay that drew the most interest.

Francis said that Christians around the world, whose faith tradition espouses "radical equality" between spouses "must become more demanding" in achieving that equality in the workplace.

In the US, which has made progress toward closing the pay gap, including such programs as President Obama's Equal Pay Day measures, designed to bolster enforcement of equal pay laws, there still isn't a single state where women are paid as much as men, a report by the American Association of University Women found. In fact, on average, women make 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

But according to recent reports, when it comes to hiring women, the Vatican itself has a less-than-stellar record.

In 2014, only 18 percent of Holy See employees were women, according to statistics released on the eve of International Women's Day and reported by the Associated Press.

In Vatican City's government, which runs the Vatican Museums, the Vatican supermarket, the pharmacy, and the department store, 19 percent of employees were women in 2014.

The Vatican itself views the same statistics as a sign that the presence of women is growing at the Vatican, pointing out that the number of women employees of the city-state's government has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 195 in 2004 to 371 in 2014, from 13 to 19 percent. …

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