By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Women must contribute the natural harmony of their thoughts, feelings and actions to the development and use of artificial intelligence, said Pope Francis.
Speaking to a group of researchers behind a study on the women and leadership, the pope said that the lived experience of women should be engaged in crafting solutions to the issues presented by the “momentous changes” of the times, such as artificial intelligence.
Meeting the group at the Vatican March 11, the pope said women know how to synthesize their experience and express it in a way that does not come as naturally to men but can be particularly useful in guiding the development of artificial intelligence, which is “still largely unknown.”
No machine can achieve that human experience because “it does not feel the beating heart of a son inside its womb,” nor “cry in pain and joy by taking part in the pains and joys of the people they love.”
All too often, Pope Francis said, a woman’s experience becomes the grounds of discrimination rather than a contribution to society. He said that inequal pay between men and women and discrimination based on maternity are “wounds of our time” that demonstrate how women are taken advantage of.
His comments were directed to members of the Vatican’s Centesimus Annus Foundation, which studies and promotes the church’s social doctrine, and the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities. Their study, titled “More Women’s Leadership for a Better World,” stated that “persistent inequalities of opportunity and status between men and women are the cause and effect of economic inequality.”
Having more women in leadership roles in the Vatican has been a positive experience, Pope Francis said, citing the example of the Council for the Economy which oversees the financial activities of the Roman Curia and Vatican City State.
In 2020, the pope nominated six lay women to the body, after which he said it “began to function, because (women) have a different capacity: the ability to act and also be patient.”
Pope Francis also praised the creativity and determination of women as exemplified in Scripture and culminating in Mary and the women who followed Jesus to the cross. “The brave ones were there: the women,” he said.
The pope praised the examples of great women saints throughout history but also of “the women next door” who lead handle difficult marriages and problematic children with “great heroism” and are part of a multitude of “women of impressive determination, courage, fidelity, remarkable for their ability to persevere, even amid suffering, and to communicate joy, integrity, humility and firm resolve.”