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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Bishop condemns discrimination against women in the workplace, as bosses’ maternity fears revealed

The Catholic Bishop for Marriage and Family Life has condemned the “unlawful discrimination” of UK bosses after research revealed that managers had refused to hire women because they ‘might start a family soon’.

The Bishop of Northampton, Peter Doyle, said the research findings were “sad”, as they reveal a “potential threat to flourishing family life in the contemporary world”.

“We live in a time where, in many families, both parents must work in order to support themselves and their children. In Amoris Laetitia (2016), Pope Francis recognises that ‘Families, in particular, suffer from problems related to work, where young people have few possibilities and job offerings are very selective and insecure.’

“If only one partner is able to work due to the other facing gender-based discrimination, there is a danger that family life will suffer,” Bishop Doyle told The Universe.

The study by law firm Slater and Gordon, found that nearly one-in- three bosses had, or would, reject a job application from a woman in case they became pregnant.

And the survey of 500 managers showed that almost one-in-seven admitted they had broken the law, while almost a third said they had or would not consider a woman for a job if she had young children or was recently married.

The law firm said that ‘shockingly’ almost two-out-of-five bosses admit they would advertise jobs for men only if the law allowed.

In response to these findings, Bishop Doyle cited Pope Francis’ 2016 exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), noting that the Holy Father explores the subjects of women’s rights, equality and work, as well as pastoral care of families.

In Amoris Laetitia, the pope stresses that, despite significant advances having been made in the recognition of women’s rights, much needs to be done in some countries to promote women’s rights.

‘History is burdened by the excesses of patriarchal cultures that considered women inferior,’ he writes. ‘There are those who believe that many of today’s problems have arisen because of feminine emancipation.

‘This argument, however, is not valid, it is false, a form of male chauvinism. The equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear, and within families there is a growing reciprocity.

‘If certain forms of feminism have arisen which we must consider inadequate, we must nonetheless see in the women’s movement the working of the Spirit for a clearer recognition of the dignity and rights of women.’

Bishop Doyle warned that the statistics in Slater and Gordon’s study expose the extent of the unlawful discrimination Pope Francis has voiced his concerns about.

“If we are to live authentically as Christians, we must continue to work harder to develop a society in which both parents are afforded equal chances to work and to be able to care for and nurture their children,” Bishop Doyle added.

You can read more on this story in this week’s Universe. Digital edition available on Thursday. Print available on Friday.
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Picture: A pregnant office worker cradles her bump. (Anthony Devlin/PA).