|Air Force Major General Margaret Woodward is the Commanding General of US Air Forces in Libya. Yes, women have come a very long way in some traditional male endeavors. Not so much in others.|
The following is a comment in response to Fr. James Martin's article in America Magazine on the decision of Fr. Bourgeios not to be forced into lieing about his views on women and the Catholic priesthood. It's a very fascinating response indeed. Like any number of comments of this type, it doesn't really address any one issue Fr Martin covered in his article. It takes off from one observation in Bourgeios' letter and then rockets into the stratosphere of male justification. I have to admit I was impressed with the depth of this commenters' anger, if not his argumentation.
How is the Church "complicit" for the mistreatment of women by all non-Catholic governments, societies and cultures? When was the last time Catholic or secular feminists even raised their voices in protest against these governments, societies and cultures in the same heat and anger they've reserved for Catholic men lay and clergy? (Just about any time Joan Chittister writes anything, amongst a whole host of others, but I imagine this man would never ever have Joan Chittister's work sully his fingers.)
You think the world is full of brutal savage men because the Church doesn't let women serve as priestesses? The Muslims brutalise women because Catholics won't ordain them? Asian and Indian cultures mistreated women and girls millennia before Christianity and to this day use them as things....and it's OUR fault? Feminists like to pride themselves on their erudition and brilliance but this theory of Patriarchy being the Church's fault is amazingly stupid. Who do you think keeps you western women from being raped and enslaved along with your sisters in the rest of the world? Men. Christian or Catholic westernized men. You're welcome. (I will thank you for helping to put the Christian westernized version of male rapists in prison, but the operative word is men. Men protecting society from other men. Oh and by the way, our current Air Force operation in Lybia is being commanded by......a woman.)
And in all those societies that had women priestesses (and temple prostitutes) where was the matriarchy and harmony among sexes? Egypt, Cannan, Persian, Greco-Roman, Celtic, India, Asian, and Native American peoples who had priestesses still had wicked men who mistreated women, children and the elderly. So the presupposition that women priests will make the world better simply has zero sociological and historical legs to stand on. Like Marxism, it's entirely ahistorical pie in the sky "imagine". (I won't comment on this one because the man cites absolutely zero research to back this up, and if he had done the research, he might not like the results.)
Furthermore, If we're so mean, us patriarchical Catholic gentlemen and clergy, why pray tell did we welcome the concept of autonomous women religious communities almost from the beginning? If we thought women were inferior to men, why would we hold them on the same level as sinners or saints? (Men did not generously give these communities, they were enacted by women and then grudgingly accepted when men saw their utility.)
There IS a sexual difference and hence there ARE unique roles and responsibilties between the sexes - but equality of dignity is never the same thing as identical roles or responsibilities. Not in society and not in the Church. If the Logos had become incarnate as a woman and if Adam had eaten the fruit first, then you'd have a leg to stand on and a reason to step onto the altar for sacrifice in expiation for womankind's sin. But since it was Adam's fall, Not Eve's, and since the Word became a Man to make up for Adam's fall..... priesthood is male. and not because it's "power" but because it's responsibility. (This is a very interesting paragraph because it negates all the theology surrounding Eve's sin and all the three thousand years of moral subservience women have endured under the guise of being 'Eve' like.)
But go ahead, if God is a Female spirit and women priests are her will for humanity and matriarchy is the solution to sin and depraved men ruling the world, have at it! How wonderfully booming are the Anglicans and others who have a female clergy? How full are their churches, seminaries and missions? Have you made the savages beyond Western Civilization and Catholicism drop their brutal patriarchy yet? And if not, and it's because Catholic Men still - despite it all - are somehow in your way.... doesn't this mean we're superior to even the will of the Goddess? (Ahhhhhm......men haven't succeeded in this particular mission either, so does that mean the male God must not be superior to the male human?
I've come across this kind of thinking numerous times in the past, in fact from my own brothers. I always wonder why they never questioned the fact in protecting women they were tacitly admitting they couldn't change the behavior of men. Their solution is always war or imprisonment. Historically it's women who believed men could become more civilized and less brutal and rapacious. Maybe because women see in their young sons the potential for a different outcome than the adult males in their lives actually exhibit.
Jesus didn't teach a spirituality which confirmed men in most of their 'male' traits. In point of fact, He teachings asked men to transcend their accepted gender roles and modeled a form of 'power' that called for a radical renunciation of other forms of male power. Peter has always stood out in my mind as the 'alpha male' who didn't really get what Jesus was about. Peter was the competitive one, the grandiose one, the one whose loyalty was conditional on the success of Jesus's ministry, the one most willing to draw a sword or exclude others from the inner sanctum. Peter was truly a 'rock' of an alpha male. Jesus could have chosen to appear to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection in order to short circuit all the male posturing about who was more important, who was more loved, who was more this that and the other thing. Appearing to Mary stopped all of that before it could get underway.
Then there is the whole business of all the male apostles (but one) hiding in the upper room while the women were left to follow Jesus to His end and to take care of His needs in death--just as they had for most of His life. His were not teachings that affirmed men in their preferred gender roles or ideals and when the going got tough the men reverted. Perhaps that's why His teachings were quickly subverted and to this day Christianity still operates on an institutional level as a major bastion in protecting the ages old ideal of male behavior and male privilege. The only real difference is the terminology. Now in Catholicism it's called complementarity instead of patriarchy. It's a very old wine being dumped in a new wineskin and that wineskin will break, just as Jesus said.
I don't for one minute think adding women to the clerical system will change the system. The system will be far more apt to change the women. That's the nature of systems. It takes a monstrous conversion in attitudes amongst those the system serves and is accountable to/for, before the system will change. The usual trend is not to change the system, but to dump the system and start anew. Jesus intended Christianity to be something new, but He was apparently way ahead of His time.
The new is coming if only because humanitys' data base is expanding at an exponential rate and society must change to reflect the new data. There is revolution in the air. Choice is becoming paramount. Greed, competition, brute strength, abuse of power, and all the other things which aren't compatible with what Jesus taught are also no longer compatible with any meaningful future for humanity. As Fukushima Dai-ichi continues to smoke, dump irradiated water in the ocean, and destroy the earth in an ever expanding arc, it stands as a potent symbol of the dangers of maintaining the idea that mankind can continue it's past pattern of resource exploitation and ever increasing levels of competition.
Do I think women have something to offer in this scenario? Yes indeed, and I also think Jesus does too.