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A Woman’s Place Is In The Church

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By Starlight - Posted on 05 April 2010

The cause of the Catholic clergy's sex-abuse scandal is no mystery: insular groups of men often do bad things. So why not break up the all-male club?

Here they are, the members of history's oldest and most elite all-male club, trying to manage what began as a domestic crisis. For decades, certain priests in America, Europe, Ireland, Brazil (and God knows where else) abused—raped or otherwise molested—children and teenagers not in the frescoed halls of the Vatican but in their own backyards: on camping trips and in cars, in dormitories and confessionals. Those few boys and girls confident enough to tell their secret whispered it to the women they trusted: mothers, aunts, grandmothers. Those few women brave enough to question authority or seek justice from the bishops were hushed up and shut down. In this case Jesus was wrong: the meek did not inherit the earth. They received pious and self-serving sermonizing.

"To be sure," wrote Boston's Cardinal Humberto Medeiros to one mother incensed over the sexual abuse of seven boys in her own family, "we cannot accept sin, but we know well that we must love the sinner."

Even with a mother, Mary, at the center of the Christian story, the women of today's church have found themselves marginalized and preached to amid the interminable revelations of the sexual-abuse scandals. Their prayers to the Virgin, protector of humanity, seem to have gone unanswered.

No wonder the men now charged with damage control face such a credibility gap, a sense that they—who read apologies from teleprompters—appear insufficiently aghast at the damage done. On Palm Sunday in New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan condemned sex abuse from his throne in St. Patrick's looking for all the world like a well-fed Fortune 500 CEO. A YouTube clip shows Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland—where 15,000 children were abused over four decades—peremptorily dismissing calls for his resignation. After a New York Times story reported that Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) failed to defrock a priest who abused 200 deaf children in Wisconsin, the pope lashed out against the news media. Faith, he said, allows one not "to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion." Time and again, the pope and his surrogates fail to convince us of their grief.

The problem is not, as so many progressives claim, the fact of their celibacy. Nor is it their costumes—the miters and capes—though these vanities do serve as reminders of the great distance between the men with power and the people without. The problem—bluntly put—is that the bishops and cardinals who manage the institutional church live behind guarded walls in a pre-Enlightenment world. Within their enclave, they remain largely untouched by the democratic revolutions in France and America. On questions of morality, they hold the group—in this case, the church—above the individual and regard modernity as a threat. We in the democratic West who criticize the hierarchy for its shocking inaction take the supremacy of the individual for granted. They in the Vatican who blast the media for bias against the pope value ecclesiastical cohesion over all. The gap is real. We don't get them. And they don't get us.

By keeping modernity at bay, though, the men who run the Catholic Church have willfully ignored one of the great achievements of the modern age: the integration of women in the workforce and public life. In America, 50 million women work full time; in the European Union that number is 68 million. Within most mainline Protestant denominations, these battles over the professionalization of women were fought—and lost—half a century ago. In Denmark, Lutheran women were granted ordination rights in 1948; in the U.S., the first female Episcopalian priest was ordained in 1976.

Read the full article at this link.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/235882

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rfwitt's picture

For a traditional Catholic perspective read the link below. Before jumping on the "Newsweek" bandwagon I think it good to hear what a traditional Catholic has to say.

Richard.....

http://remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2010-0331-MJM-Garda.htm

Starlight's picture

I find it interesting that this article reminds the Catholics that the Anglican/Episcopalian movement fostered women to help solve the “man” problem. What is left out is that the Episcopalian movement had no major divisions until recently and it was over allowing Gays in the Priesthood and was under the oversight of a Woman leading the National organization.

The article is an interesting discussion upon the benefits of democracy in fostering freedom from repression but fails to present a balanced argument (if there is one). It reminds again of the arguments that Constitutional purest make concerning the changing of the intent and letter of its original purpose thus decrying those who embrace its ability as a “living breathing constitution” adapting to the changing dynamics of a complex society. It just goes to show that not all arguments are considered equal for the discerning opportunist.

Norm

amie's picture

I find it interesting that men are arguing over what to do with us in the first place. Do you really think it's their (your) place?!

I know a lot of women that are looking for men to include or even acknowledge them in leadership and the like too, as if that validates that women deserve to be or should be there or something.

It also looks as though the religious are still blaming sex for problems cropping up within it. The male sex is currently associated with a strong sex drive so it is easy to blame maleness for child abuse. The reality is that any place where children would be an easy target will attract predators. Within the Catholic leadership their is opportunity, privacy, and perceived authoritative superiority.

Anything that they would be seeking in women they can find in men as well. It is sexism pure and simple.

And, it is a sad failure to recognize that women already have immense power to shape the future.. unless you fool yourself into believing that moms have no influence.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

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Starlight's picture

Amie,

Thanks for your response. I posed this issue hoping to arouse folks from differing points of view by being a tad provocative. ;-) I thought it might develop some interesting discussion from a culture that has changed dramatically since my time of entering adulthood of the late 60's and early 70's that saw our world turned upside down by the womens movement.

Norm

amie's picture

It's a good topic imo Norm, and provocative enough that I wanted to jump in! :-) In the 70's I was still in elementary school and wrastlin' boys, lol!

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

Starlight's picture

Amie,

If you want a spoof of the 1970's watch this goofy movie. "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" with Will Ferrell.

Just as an aside, I Graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in the 70's and remember asking our College President what he thought about Okla City having a woman Mayor. Then when I graduated and went to work managing Grocery stores the first place they put me was in a store in the Gay neighborhood in Houston starting with an assistant manager who was a woman and was senior to me and was supposed to train me. Then a couple years later they put me with an overtly Gay Store manager to see if he could run off this naive farm boy fresh from the farm in Oklahoma who came from a white American protected college that sheltered me. To say the least I had to adapt and become a little more open minded fast. It was especially crazy finding that some of my best employees were Gay and or Female.

What can I say except sometimes its good to get off the farm and go to the big city for a change. LOL

Norm

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