"Even with a mother, Mary, at the center of the Christian story, the women of today's church have found themselves marginalized and preached to amid the interminable revelations of the sexual-abuse scandals.
"The chasm between the church's stated principles and its functional reality yawns wide. In the U.S., 60 percent of Sunday massgoers are women; thus most of the contributions to the collection plate—$6 billion a year—are made by women. And yet the presence of women anywhere within the institutional power structure is virtually nil. The number of women who hold top-tier positions in any of the dicasteries, or committees, that make up the Vatican structure can be counted on one hand. Few women retain high-profile management jobs, such as chancellor, within dioceses. And though nuns dramatically outnumber priests worldwide, they are mostly so invisible that when a group of them speaks up, as they did recently on health-care reform, everyone takes notice."