According to an article in the official Vatican Daily, the washing machine has had the greatest liberating role for women in the 20th century.

The article in the Osservatore Romano, was a commentary for International Women’s Day and the headline states ‘The washing machine and the emancipation of women, put in the powder, close the lid and relax’.

The article raises the question ‘in the 20th century, what contributed most to the emancipation of western women?’ and the article claims that the washing machine was the most important due to the fact that it “freed generations of women from the drudgery of housework”.

The article quotes “the debate is still open. Some say it was the pill, others the liberalisation of abortion, or being able to work outside the home”.

“While early models were expensive and unreliable, technology had improved to the point that there is now the image of the super women, smiling, made-up and radiant among the appliances of her house,” wrote the newspaper.

This announcement is quite bizarre and has sparked angry responses from many social commentators, politicians and feminists across the world, and many are claiming the Vatican are glazing over the important issues.

But in any case it is good news for washing machine manufacturers, who now have a blessing from the Church.