Here's another bang my head on my desk decision from our 'traditional' friends in Phoenix AZ. Oh, and we are to believe Admiral Olmstead had nothing to do with this decision affecting his Flag Ship. Interesting how Phoenix Catholic girls can attend the United States Naval Academy, but not serve Mass for Admiral Olmstead. The following is Michael Sean Winter's take on this decision as posted yesterday in the National Catholic Reporter.
No Altar Girls at Phoenix CathedralBy Michael Sean Winters - National Catholic Reporter - 8/22/2011
The rector of the Cathedral of Sts. Simon and Jude in Phoenix has decided to only allow boys to be altar servers at Mass. The Rev. John Lankeit said the decision was his alone, not that of Bishop Thomas Olmsted. Lankeit cited the historic connection between altar boys and vocations. (Notice Fr Lankeit states 'historic' connection, not present connection.)
The decision is regrettable from every angle. There may be an historic connection between boys being altar servers and some of those boys going on to be priests. Hard to tell. There was also an historical connection between maleness and, say, the American founding. There was, until recently, a connection between being male and running for President. The rector may not have noticed but women do lots of things they did not do previously and it is a misplaced concern for gender differentiation to want to hold on to yesteryear's ways.
The decision also runs the risk of bringing back the "boys club" mentality that has caused great damage to the Church. Altar servers bond. While other boys and girls sleep in or play soccer on a Sunday morning, they get together to help out at Mass. Restricting that activity by gender helps create the wrong kind of gender differentiation, the kind that leads adolescents to grow up to be uncomfortable with women in Church, but any future pastor will likely rely on women to run all sorts of activities in his parish. Boys who are uncomfortable around girls will be inclined to see being an altar boy as a chance to escape their uncomfortability. I would submit that this is not necessarily a good thing to discern, still less to cultivate, in future clerics.(I sort of disagree with Michael's take. Boys will grow up uncomfortable with women in any meaningful role in the Church, as opposed to society. I suspect the uncomfortableness with women in the church in ways other than the pews is the whole idea behind this move.)
But, there is a deeper concern. Those altar girls who are now barred are baptized. Serving as an altar boy does not have to do with holy orders - and it never has. Yes, in seminary, future priests were installed officially as acolytes and as lectors, but most parishes never had officially installed acolytes. Rev. Lankeit has focused on the wrong sacrament in this decision. One wonders if he has even read the documents of Vatican II which place such a heavy emphasis on the dignity of the baptized.
Bishop Olmsted has not been shy about making controversial decisions. And, generally, most of us think that allowing pastors more say in their parishes is a good thing: micro-managing bishops can be a disaster. But, this is not just any parish. Officially, Olmsted is the pastor of this parish. He should step in and overturn the decision. (Oh wow, Michael what are you smoking?)
Catholics can surely expect more and more of this kind of thing. It is so tiresome. It is so frustrating. It is so junior high. Last night I read this 'professional assesment' of SNAP's National Convention from Bill Donohue. Towards the end he takes on Richard Sipe and Tom Doyle for their professional analysis that one of the major underlying causes of the clerical sexual abuse crisis is the pscho sexual immaturity in the clergy and it's encultured narcissism. Ya think? Apparently Bill Donohue doesn't think. It's a fascinating read in it's own way because Bill takes on seemingly everyone who has ever had a negative word to say about the sexual abuse crisis or 'Holy Mother' church. The idea that some of that negativity might actually be truth is beyond Bill.
I just love how "holy mother" church has no room or place for her daughters except to prepare and clean all the sacred spaces reserved to her exalted sons. That is what girls will get to do in Phoenix. They will be allowed to function as sacristans who prepare the altar area before Mass.
I started this out by referencing Olmstead as an Admiral. I did this for a purpose. The Libyan campaign is now drawing to a successful conclusion, as least in terms of the military component. Our US Air Forces were under the command of Major General Margaret Woodward. A woman. A woman who ironically is a graduate of Arizona State University. We Catholic women are being asked to believe that Margaret Woodward is capable of commanding in a theatre of war, but not serve at Olmstead's Masses. Excuse me?
Here is what her fellow commanding officers think of General Woodward:
“Her success in a male-dominated world comes because she is a smart operator,” said Dunn, who served at the Pentagon when Woodward worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “She understands air power, and her forte is she gets along with people -- the human element of command can be one that’s difficult for some to master.”
Maybe it's time pseudo Admiral Olmstead called on General Woodward for some advice on how to deal with the 'human element of command'. After all General Woodward's campaign resulted in exactly zero US casualties and the objective was completed in six months. Oh and lest I forget, the alliance which made this success possible was part and parcel of our Foreign service effort led by another woman, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton.
Women military and world leaders? Yes. Altar girls? No. This disconnect between women in the Church and women in society is a huge huge disconnect. It is a gap which will only get wider and wider unless the psycho sexually developed men in the Church start raising their voices and put the immature male in his place.
Don't forget that other category we are told we can aspire to: becoming the mother of a priest!ReplyDelete
These guys apparently haven't figured out that many mothers are telling their sons NOT to go hang out with or become one of THEM!
I saw some of the NCR stuff yesterday. I can only think the 'men' [and by this I am referencing their calendar age only] who make or - insist upon the making of - these imperial edicts never matured beyond grade school. How well I recall the most heated 'debates' in class were of the 'boys are better, no girls are better' variety. Funny thing though: I don't recall any of those class arguments after... oh say the 5th grade. I guess those 'men' are still too afraid of getting cooties or whatever. Because that is exactly how they come across to me no matter how they dress up their arguments with self-serving facts and logic. In order to preserve their special elevated status of entitled privilege little boys MUST put the females in the proper place.ReplyDelete
I wonder what other possible reason could these churchmen have for allowing females in their church.
OF COURSE women can do just about any job men can. Most jobs don't require either the ability to produce sperm or ova. Most jobs in human society require human qualities of intellect, will, spirit and heart. Neither gender holds a monopoly of these qualities. The problem has been building a society which allows/encourages all people regardless of gender to fully develop and bring to fruition the God-given qualities of each individual.
They fear anything that will bring about change in world view. They fear the loss of their cushy control of income--- It is about living the live style of $300,000 or much more for some. This type of fear makes a person a bit stupid, this may be a symptom of boarder line personality development. This type of development has been required for appointment to the Episcopacy by the last 2 popes.
They fear the truth that the Holy Spirt brings to each generation. Seems to me not to listen to the whispers of change brought by the Spirit is a very serious problem. dennis
Women are the largest marginalized group in the Roman Church. The hieracrchy's refusal to incorporate women fully in the life of the church is medieval, but serves the purpose of control by the elite.ReplyDelete
It also serves to underline the male identity of the priesthood and it's obedience to higher male ranks. I think there is a reason for this and it doesn't have anything to do with Jesus.ReplyDelete
What did JP2 say, uh, oh here it is:ReplyDelete
"The 1987 Synod on the laity expressed precisely this need and asked that "without discrimination women should be participants in the life of the Church and also in consultation and the process of coming to decisions" (Propositio 47; cf. Christifideles laici, n. 51).
2. This is the way to be courageously taken. To a large extent, it is a question of making full use of the ample room for a lay and feminine presence recognized by the Church's law. I am thinking, for example, of theological teaching, the forms of liturgical ministry permitted, including service at the altar, pastoral and administrative councils, Diocesan Synods and Particular Councils, various ecclesial institutions, curias, and ecclesiastical tribunals, many pastoral activities, including the new forms of participation in the care of parishes when there is a shortage of clergy, except for those tasks that belong properly to the priest. Who can imagine the great advantages to pastoral care and the new beauty that the Church's face will assume, when the feminine genius is fully involved in the various areas of her life?"
Take that Olmsted, you orthodox, you JP2 priests...
What a great expression. What a concept
These old men. They remind me of the Four Yorkshiremen. Self-satisfied. Looking back at life nostalgically, however warped their perception of past, present or future. Yes, they're in their own little world.
"Nothing like a good glass of Château de Chasselas, eh, Josiah?"
but then every time I think of this sketch I think of Monty Python's grand theological song and dance number, "Every Sperm is Sacred".
p2p 'Every Sperm Is Sacred' is one of my all time favorite Monte Python skits. Closely followed by "I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok".ReplyDelete
That's quite the statement from JPII. I imagine the reform of the reformer's will have to find a way to delete that little gem.
Please do not associate Olmsted with the Sea Services. Remember it was the women and men of the US Navy that lit up the sky on that first night into Libya. As for titles for Olmstead, I can think of quite a few but none proper for use in a domain as genteel as yours.ReplyDelete
I resorted to the cooties analogy in a blog post today. And I can't believe that they're making the argument that young boys need to spend more time bonding with bishops and priests. Didn't we just decide that was a bad idea??ReplyDelete
As an aside, the only good thing about the Finn debacle in KC is that I've discovered this blog. It's my refuge from the retro Catholics online.
When I was a kid it was an insult to taunt "Your mother wears army boots." Didn't bother me.ReplyDelete
My Mom served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1945.
The Sisters of St. Joseph had counseled her to become an engineer when she was in high school. She chose a different path, but there was no doubt in our house that a woman could do just about any damn thing a man could do, sometimes better. It was a self-evident truth at our house. Mom comes from a line of strong, self-reliant women. I once asked her if she liked Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. Hated it. Refused to finish it, saying Aunt Maggie always told us "There's no one who is your betters". And still my mother is in many ways a very conservative person, who did not identify with the feminist movement, not a radical at all.
Incidentally if it wasn't for the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Loretto Sisters I might have left the church long ago.
I wanted to bring some statistics about Participation of Women in the Catholic Church. It is pretty obvious that women attend church more than men. I will save that for another time.
Glad you enjoyed the humor Colleen.
Jack, it's just that I think the Church hierarchy is modeled on the military. I've always found that interesting in that reflexive obedience is probably necessary in a system where killing and avoiding being killed is the mission.ReplyDelete
I've just never understood how that model fits in a system dedicated to life and healing. Given some of Olmstead's decisions I can't help but wonder if he has his mission reversed. No offense was intended to the sea services.
Dianne, you aren't the only one who resorted to the cooties analogy, and I too wondered how in the world they could make the argument that boys needed more opportunity to bond with priests and bishops. More head banging ensued.ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoy the conversation. I try to keep it civil if not intelligent. Well, most of the time.
p2p, Monte Python is a Thanksgiving ritual in my house. I decided not to saddle another generation with miserable Lions football. Maybe not this year though.ReplyDelete
You raise an interesting subject for another day on parallels and differences between the two. One point on obedience, for now: the military are adamant about strict obedience because, someday, lives are likely to depend on it. They are equally adamant, by law, about the _obligation_ to reject unlawful orders from a superior. Think of that the next time some priest's obedience to a bishop is invoked to explain behavior related to criminal matters such as child sexual abuse.
They fear women because of the sweeping changes it would bring to their system of governance and organization. You are right Colleen, this has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. It is misogyny and fear of women. Homophobia is only a displacement of what they really fear----- women! They hate and fear what they do not understand. They have little understanding of relationship one of the central features of what Christ was trying to teach us.ReplyDelete
They will have their very small and more "pure" church. The cult of Rome will survive for awhile. They have a lot of resources to expend for many years and they may be able to seduce certain member of the wealthy to continue to provide more for awhile. But, the RCC as an institution continues to implode each day at an ever increasing pace.
I really think that we should all be thinking what now. I personally get more spirituality from my profession and studying the new discoveries of science than I do from the RCC organization. Secular study brings me to revere the wonder of what life is about from its origins to personal death, to death of a universe. Who are we? Why are we here? Those are the questions of a wise seventh grade nun. The Bishops fear to answer those questions because they wish to believe in their own “authority” to know without doing the work to understand. They in general are a mess of psychological infantiles. Too bad, the 60’s and Vatican II pointed to so much hope. Today we only see regressive stupid authoritarianism in this organization. This is very sad and can not be reversed without a lot of upheaval. The seth murdered his brother Osiris. Ratzinger and others attempted to murder the minds of theologians and scientists. The result is only calamity as the myth goes. Darkness follows. To some extent so does violence.
Sometimes, I think the clerical collars must cut off all circulation to the brain. This is yet another instance of a "shepherd", a "servant" doing what they want because they see the parish as their personal possession to do with as they please.ReplyDelete
I decided many, many years ago that I would not wash an altar cloth or clean a church until a woman presided at the altar, and I've held to that decision.
When women wise up and close their purses and confine their cleaning to their own homes, we won't see any significant change in how women are treated in the church
Mixed in with the misogyny and fears, etc. is the authority of office. General Woodward's authority is publicly signified by her insignia of rank and title. She earned it by passing many tests over years, and she exercises it year round, effectively or she would be replaced. I am quite certain she spends far less than a minute a year talking about it. In contrast, Bp. Olmstead's memorable letter on the hospital last November, to someone who knew him, named explicitly his "authority" about ten times in a few pages. No one confident in his or her authority acts that way. (Observe the next cop in action that you pass.)ReplyDelete
Some insight on what you find in people like Woodward and look/wish for in cardinals and bishops can be found in a recent speech by Robert Gates on the ancient art of leadership. It was non-sectarian, non-military, and non-sexist, intended for women and men who may be burdened with authority and responsibility involving other people in serious matters. It's a teachable, learnable skill when started early enough in the right environment.