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Group Of Local Female Catholics Question Women's Role In The Church

LOS ANGELES ( — Jennifer O'Malley is just one of many women who respect Pope Francis, but feel that something is missing around him.

"We find his pastoral nature very refreshing," O'Malley said.

"But unfortunately he continues to exclude women from leadership roles... We continue to see him surrounded by men, by clergy, we don't see women present," she added.

O'Malley is the leader of the "Holy Wisdom Catholic Community" Church in Long Beach,, and a movement called Roman Catholic Women Priests, or "RCWP".

With or without recognition from the Vatican, she says that the presence of "self-proclaimed" female priests is growing.

While there were just seven in 2002, there are more than 150 today.

"While personally, it's a call from God to the priesthood, on a justice level, there is an oppression of women within the church," O'Malley said.

In Philadelphia on Saturday, Pope Francis said it was time the church valued the "immense contribution" of lay and religious women, suggesting the church could not afford to be stuck in old traditions.

The Pope continued by arguing that reinvigorating people's faith was one of the "greatest challenges facing the Church in this generation".

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told us, "We are blessed in our Archdiocese to have many women in leadership roles from our Chancellor to our many teachers, catchists, and Parish Life directors."

A CBS News / New York Times Poll shows more than half of Catholics say the Vatican is out of touch with everyday Catholics.

Two thirds would allow priests to marry, and nearly 6 in 10 would allow women to be ordained priests.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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