The Catholic Church could have avoided much of the scandal that currently surrounds it if women had been in positions of power, says a feminist insider in the Church.
Journalist and historian Lucetta Scaraffia is the founder of a new women's supplement for the Vatican's official newspaper and a campaigner for women's rights in the male-dominated institution.
The scandals that have engulfed the Vatican would not have happened if women had been in charge, she argues.
In the wake of a series of clerical sex abuse affairs that have swept through the Church, she has pushed for women to teach in seminaries to give future priests the social and cultural skills to help them handle celibacy.
"The paedophilia scandal was almost exclusively male," she told AFP, at her book-lined apartment in the Parioli quarter of Rome.
"If there had been women in positions of power they would not have allowed those things to happen.
"Women have long been reputed as sexually dangerous. But it's clear that the danger lay with men and children," she said.
Scaraffia says the new insert she edits in the 150-year-old Vatican newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, has ruffled feathers, despite having the support of Pope Benedict XVI.
"There are those who say 'I have not read it'," said the 64-year-old journalist.
"They don't want to say it's not good. they prefer to say 'it doesn't interest me.' The indifference is terrible."
But, she added: "It was the pope who decided to have women work at the Osservatore Romano."
The Osservatore Romano newspaper, founded in 1861, only opened its doors to female journalists in 2008.
But despite the pope's backing for what has been described by the Osservatore Romano as a move "to give voice to the value that women bring to the Church," Scaraffia said she was fighting a lonely battle.
"There is misogyny in the Church," she said.
"It's a closed world, caught up with issues of power. Many in the clergy are afraid that if women come onto the scene there will be less room for them."
Full Story: Women 'the answer' for scandal-hit Vatican
Source: AFP/Bangkok Post