Why wasn’t a woman invited to preside at a papal prayer service?

A woman cantor was part of the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis to close the World Meeting of Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia Sept. 27. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis' visit left me with a welter of conflicting feelings.

I am proud of U.S. Catholicism and awed by the monumental organizing of dedicated church women and men in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City. They skillfully orchestrated Francis' much-desired engagement with the poor as well as the politically powerful.

I was inspired by our humble, Spirit-filled pope, who prodded both Congress and clerics to serve the common good rather than petty partisan interests.

I prayed along with the people of God for a new spirit of respect for the environment and of welcome for struggling immigrant peoples.

And I bemoaned the glaringly persistent visuals of a Catholic liturgy woefully lacking gender balance.

Our common prayer needs to mirror the whole church, not just those gifted with a Y chromosome.

Papal Masses in all three cities countered Francis' "I am one of you" narrative by evoking male hierarchical triumphalism.

In our U.S. church, female ministers and lay leaders probably outnumber priests by at least 10 to one.

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