I have received your objection to the use of “Venus Restored” by the artist Man Ray on the Pontifical Council for Culture’s website to illustrate the working document of the Plenary Assembly on “Women’s Cultures: equality and difference”. While registering your complaint, we have chosen not to remove the image, as we believe it speaks clearly for one of the central points of our document: many women, alas, are still struggling for freedom (bound with rope), their voices and intellect often unheard (headless), their actions unappreciated (limbless).
My 50 years of experience and observations indicate the intellectual contributions from women the hierarchy most appreciates tend to be ones that echo, promote, adulate or enshrine the hierarchy's contributions. Women's intellectual contributions that challenge the hierarchy's ideas and worldview usually suffer dehumanizing non-acknowledgement, dismissal, scorn, censure or are outright demonized. Currently the hierarchy often ascribes the term "radical feminist" to women offering intellectual contributions differing from those of the hierarchy. Unless women grab their pom-poms and perform perky cheers about the hierarchy's intellectual contributions, they stand little chance of being heard and even less chance of being appreciated.
Cardinal, you have no women members on your council. Why? If the plight of unheard female voices troubles you, the council should be led by a woman and have a majority of women members. The total absence of women members immediately nullifies the council’s and your personal credibility because you chose to continue the hierarchy's male hegemonic praxis of excluding women.
The wounds the hierarchy inflicts and has inflicted upon women are too numerous and raw to endure abiding it, as a primary source of injustice, to use artwork that gut-wrenchingly captures the state to which such injustices reduce women. Furthermore, the hierarchy’s lack of self-awareness as perpetrator of injustices against women and delusional self-portrayal as benefactor and defender of women adds to the artwork's absolute and infallible contextual offensiveness and inappropriateness. It is time for admission, penitence, apologies and altered behaviors, not perpetuation of the hierarchy's sins by marginalizing women's voices on this topic.Your inability or unwillingness to hear women on this accentuates what progress we can expect to arise from any council about women led by you, does it not?