Anyone who regularly reads Pope Francis' speeches quickly realizes that he hasn't met a metaphor he doesn't like. Inhis closing address of the Synod of Bishops, he used two images for the church that seemed to capture the imagination of several commentators. "And this is the church ... ," Francis said, "the fertile mother and the caring teacher."
Though both metaphors are lovely, they also seem to strain under the weight of the reality that they were intended to signify.
Consider the circumstances of the synod fathers. The "fertile mother" is made up solely of men -- men whose authority is based on their capacity to be both male and (in theory, at least) celibate.
These men are spending the next two years contemplating teachings that deeply affect women (marriage, family, contraception, domestic violence). Yet women have never had a role in creating these doctrines, they continue to have no voice in developing these doctrines, and, in the end, they will not have a vote in deciding whether these doctrines have a future.