Pope Francis calls domestic violence “almost satanic”

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Pope Francis condemned domestic violence against women in harsh terms on Sunday evening, in a television program on an Italian network. “The problem is that, for me, it’s almost satanic because it’s taking advantage of a person who cannot defend himself, who can only [try to] block the blows, ”he said. ” It’s humiliating. Very humiliating.

Although the Pope earlier spoke of domestic violence – noting in particular its increase during the pandemic – the Sunday night broadcast makes it the strongest condemnation in the practice to date, Reuters reported. As religious leader and head of state, the Pope’s words carry a lot of weight. In terms of numbers, they can influence around 1.35 billion follower-believers around the world.

A 2014 Pew Research poll found that a majority of people around the world viewed Pope Francis positively. Although in India 61% of those polled have no opinion at all, that has likely changed in recent times, especially in light of the recent high-profile meetings between the Prime Minister and the Pope.

A 2015 survey, also carried out by the Pew Research Center, found that Pope Francis, in particular, finds more favor across the political spectrum compared to his predecessors, and also influences people’s favorable opinion. with regard to the Catholic Church.

The results of the survey bear witness to the importance of his influence. India’s Catholic Christian population of around 2.8 million is the third largest religious group in India after Hindus and Muslims. In a context where ancient religious have the power to influence behavior through their preaching, this statement has an impact.

A series on gender and Christianity in The Conversation noted that evangelical sermons often emphasized to submit to the authority of a husband, as part of the “plan of God”. “[S]he [a survivor] told me that when she went to her church leaders for help, they asked her what she hurt. When she tried to escape abuse after the first decade of marriage, they told her to continue going to church with her husband, ”Vicki Lowik and Annabel Taylor wrote in this series.


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India’s domestic violence laws fail to protect couples who live apart, leaving them vulnerable and stigmatized


Additionally, an ABC survey found that religious leaders often allow and cover up domestic violence against women. “When we talk about domestic violence and the cultural factors behind it, a crucial piece missing from the discussion has been religion,” write Julia Baird and Hayley Gleeson.

Religion, in general, being a male dominated space, can have a role to play. A 2015 Lancet The study found that “norms related to male authority over female behavior” are predictive of intimate partner violence in all geographies. In addition, literal interpretations of the Bible can protect “perpetrators of domestic violence while simultaneously casting shame and contempt on its victims,” ​​noted a Catholic bishop from Australia.

Feminist critics of Christian theology have sought to recapture the “androcentric” interpretations of the Bible that have long prevailed, fueling domestic violence in the name of God. “… An androcentric interpretation of God is a false concept that dehumanizes women and perpetuates their experiences of domestic violence,” writes Ally Moder, a domestic violence survivor and Christian feminist theologian.

Some feminist theologians have also pointed out the sexism and patriarchal prejudices of “divine language,” stressing the need to reconstruct the narrative. Feminist theologians join a tradition of feminist claims of religion away from the patriarchal interpretations of scripture used to justify violence and misogyny.

The Pope’s statement is therefore powerful and influential, for it specifically uses religious language and runs counter to misogynistic interpretations of scripture, and is consistent with what feminists have long argued.


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