First-time U.S. tourist Pope Francis has done right by some women: He’s made it easier for Catholic women who’ve had abortions to seek absolution, promoted the idea of women as equals in the church, and advocated for more humane treatment of sex-trafficking survivors.
But the pontiff has his limits. He’s stood firm on male-only priesthood on the grounds that priests are representatives of Christ, who was a man and only chose his fellow bros as apostles. Pope Francis isn’t above making a hackneyed joke about nagging women and their whipped men, either. When Italian newspaper Il Messaggero asked him if he’d ever appoint a female leader of a Vatican department, the pope answered in the “take my wife—please!” tradition: “Well, pastors often wind up under the authority of their housekeeper!” Women, amiright?
Religious leaders have a Henny Youngman anxiety of influence. In a BBC interview released on Monday, the Dalai Lama affirmed that when he dies, he could be reincarnated as a woman, who’d be the next Dalai Lama. The leader recalled a statement he made in Paris some years ago: “If [a] female Dalai Lama [were to] come, then that female must be very attractive—otherwise, not much use,” he quipped, laughing along with the startled BBC reporter.
Like Donald Trump’s comments about his daughter’s sex appeal but without the complicating aura of incest, the Dalai Lama’s joke was a recycled bit he’s latched onto, perhaps, as a way to connect with the everyman. He’s previously said that he could be reincarnated as a “mischievous blonde woman,” but if she were not conventionally attractive, “nobody [would] pay much attention.” We may not all agree on whether reincarnation is actually a thing or how to talk about the occupation of Tibet, but hot women are hot in any dogma.
In his Il Messaggero interview, Pope Francis used the book of Genesis to defend himself against accusations of misogyny. “The fact is,” he said, “woman was taken from a rib.” Hey-o! “I am kidding; that was a joke,” he clarified. What he didn’t mention is that Genesis was actually produced by the writers of Married With Children.