Facebook Conversation on Young Women and the Church

Why are so many young women leaving the church? Sr. Patricia Wittberg addresses this crucial topic in the latest issue of America, and we hope to continue the conversation on our Facebook page. Why do you think young Catholic women are disaffected? If you are a young woman who has left the church, why have you done so? Please invite your friends and family to participate in this conversation. If you are not on Facebook, feel free to share your thoughts here.

Tim Reidy

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Anne Chapman
5 years 8 months ago
So, Joe, you defend the old ''double-standard'' - the one that says men can do anything they want - choose whatever vocation they want are qualified for, choose to have sex but not get pregnant - do anything they want but not women?  Do you think women should agree to go back to the days of ''barefoot and pregnant.''?

Do you really dare to accuse  modern women of being ''selfish''? 

Today's young women, for the first time in history, have choices that were denied their mothers and grandmothers - in their educations, in their vocations. Most do want to marry and be mothers. But they don't need celibate old men telling them that they are unworthy of a sacrament. Nor do they need those same men to dictate to them on the most intimate matters of their marriages and family life.

Until women are truly respected for the fullness of their humanness, and ALL that they do and give, and not just for  their ability to procreate,  young women should not be faulted for deciding that self-respect as full human beings made in God's image, but disrespected by too many men in the church, might mean they should stay away from the Catholic church.


Winifred Holloway
5 years 8 months ago
Bravo, Anne.  Like Marie, my 3 sons and 3 daughters had Catholic school educations thru 8th grade and two of my sons went to Catholic colleges.  We were all involved in parish activities.  I would say that they in fact do have a sentimental attachment to the Catholic church and strong Catholic attitudes in regard to justice, mercy and charity, but they feel detached and exasperated.

  Of the six, only my older daughter attends Mass and that is b/c she has two children and she does it for them.  Two of my younger children have recently had their first babies.  Hopefully, they will be baptized, but it wouldn't surprise me if they opt out.  Many young Catholic women, like my daughters, are professionals, and fully functioning adults.  To be treated as though they were slightly dim little girls and unable to make important life decisions without the guidance of an all-male hierarchy  anchored in some medieval parallel world, is just too enraging.  Why do these men not see this? 

As Anne has written elsewhere in this publication, one of the reasons is that they only talk to each other.  Let's face it.  Women do not count in our church. We only come up for discussion when the boys in charge want to exert control over the use of our lady parts.  Look no further than the fake religious liberty question now placing our church in a position to be easily ridiculed (as if the sexual abuse issue wasn't bad enough).  I remember when our bishops discussed in the public square serious issues affecting humanity - nuclear weapons, poverty, racism and social justice.  Now, it's contraception that gets them in the news.  They are embarrassing.
Stephen SCHEWE
5 years 8 months ago
Hi friends,

Please don't feed the trolls.  :-)
Amy Ho-Ohn
5 years 8 months ago
It has been a very long time since I was a young woman, so I am perhaps not qualified to offer a useful opinion. But it seems to me that the statistics don't indicate young women are staying away at a higher rate than young men; they're just staying away at about the same rate, for the first time in recorded history. One obvious explanation is that for the first time in recorded history, young women are as busy with secular life as young men. Classes, exams, internships, crippling loans, romantic liasons, sky-diving; all the reasons young men have no time to come sit in church on Sunday morning are now reasons young women don't either.

But I do not wiant to appear to dismiss the impact of the ever-more-noxiously misogynistic rhetoric emitted from the pulpit of the typical parish church. My parish is pretty good, but in most other parishes I've been to, I think any female would be well-advised to pack a barf bag with her mantilla. Probably the younger generation has somewhat less tolerance for that sort of thing.
Crystal Watson
5 years 8 months ago
Question asked - why don't women go to church.   First clue ....

Women answer question ... men tell them they're wrong.
Michael Barberi
5 years 8 months ago
Lack of adequate information and subjectivism is reflective of Mr. Cosgrove's opinion. He has a right to this opinion. However, if you study Church history, especially the history of moral theology, there are a number of reasons that have caused low Mass attendance and the disfrancizement of many male and female Catholics. I offer a few of them:

1. The 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (HV) was a significant turning point in our modern history. After the Second Vatican Council, there was a legitimate pent up enthusiam among the laity, theologians, priests and many bishops that the Church was going to move beyond pre-conciliar classicism and legalism and toward a more personalistic and relationalistic moral philosophy. Unfortunately, HV sent us back to pre-conciliar teachings. It also profoundly influenced and shaped sexual ethics for the next 44 years. The outcry from the Conferences of Bishops in many countries, most theologians and the laity was unprescented. HV divided the Church and the debates that followed over the next 30-40 years were highly contentious and disparaging. In the theological community, it was an us versus them mentality and John Paul II cause much of it with his uncompromising and assertive proclamations and the classification of Catholics into the culture of death and the culture of life. He believe that many of his clergy, most theologians and laity were "infected" with the evil of the secular world. He would have none of it.

Many surveys were conducted and a strong correlation and cause of the significant drop in Mass attendance from 1968 to the 1980s were attributed to HV and subsequent prohibitions such as in vitro fertilization and abortion even if the life of the mother was threatened by the fetus and the fetus could not survive under any circumstances. Contraception was intrinsically evil, and the implication was that Catholics who practiced it committed a mortal sin, thus unless confessed as a sin, reception of the Eurcharist was akin to a sacriledge. The issue of conscience versus authority became most ambiguous causing moral conflict.

2. JP II's believed that women should model themselves after Mary (mother, servant of God and family, humble, and loyal spouse). Women should not be concerned about things like priestly ordination and other roles in the Church or workplace.

3. JP II was dictatorial and had no patience with anyone who did not fully support his teachings. He instituted a so-called "oath of alligence" that every priest had to sign proclaiming unconditional submission to every teaching of the Church. Only those priests who were loyal would become bishops. The authority of the papacy was significantly expanded and few challanged his iron will. The authority of bishops that did found that their espiscopal duties were given to auxilary bishops. Theologians such as Charlie Curran, who disagreed found that their teaching license to teach Catholic religion was recinded.

The Church and the role for women grew worse from the advent of HV to JP II's death in 2005. The Church of Christ was profoundly divided and the credibility of the papacy and the Magisterium erroded further when the sexual abuse scanal broke. Surveys documented that Catholics, both young and old, male and female disagreed with most of the sexual ethical teachings of the Church, and there was a belief among the laity that there was direct and indirect discrimination of womem in the life of the Church.

4. Clearly, there are many other reasons why women and men do not attend Church and are disenfranchized. Over half of Catholic couples are divorsed. They are refused the sacrament of reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Male and female Catholics who have a same-sex attraction are also disenfrancized. Seriopostive couples have no recourse but to practice life-long celibacy; they cannot use a condom when they wish to express their love through sexual intercourse. The life of many young women who are threatened by another pregnancy must practice celibacy or risky periodic continence (NFP).  They are told they cannot take the pill or be sterilized to safeguard their life. In this case, the hierarchy of values are turned upside down. The decision to use the most effective means to safeguard one's life seems to be less important and morally irrelevant than a decision to practice risky NFP or celibacy to ensure that every marital act has a procreative meaning.

5. Lastly, the homilies and sermons from the pulpit seldom address issues important to Catholics: Can you disagree with a Church teaching and sill be a faithful Catholic?, how does one grow spiritually?, how does one make morally ethical decisions?, what constititues living a moral life pleasing to God? and how does one make a decision and render a right judgment when there is a conflict of values.

As you can determine, it is the culture of the Church, the inadequate addressing of Gordian knot issues and complex ethical cases, the sufferings and moral dilemma of most Catholics, especially women in dealing with the Church's sexual ethical teachings, and the disenfrancizment of many Catholics, both male and female, that have impacted their faith. Their faith in Christ is still strong, but not their faith in the authority and management of His Church.
Carlo Lancellotti
5 years 8 months ago
The only reason to belong to the Church is faith, not sentimental attachment. People are simply not evangelized, meaning they are not taught about knowing Jesus Christ and the need for the Church as the sacrament of the presence of Jesus. Everything else is perfectly irrelevant, because if they had faith they would stay no matter what, and if they do not have it ultimately they have no reason to stay.
david power
5 years 8 months ago
Emily M,

It was wonderful to read what you wrote.A clear and heartfelt description of faith in Christ.
I think that you slightly misread what I wrote ,which is easy to do as I write in a confused way.I spoke of only the young women I know.Not all catholic women. 
I have also met women such as yourself but have felt that they are always made to "hold back " in some way.Maybe subtle ways.
The truth is that you are a very big exception.This is the tragedy.
My best friend's mother is in the same boat as your mother.She brought up 7 children and goes to Mass daily.She is an incredible women.Her husband was an alcoholic and I cannot even tell you what she endured.They separated. She finally found a new love.A good and kind man who gives her companionship.She was a Eucharistic minister for twenty years.No more.
A young JP2 priest told her she was most welcome to sit in the pews. God moves in mysterious ways was the refrain of my youth in Ireland.He moves outside the Church too and in the hearts of all people especially atheists.
Michael Barberi got it right when he spoke of a major change needed.What that will be nobody knows.Who will have the courage for it?The Holy Spirit is probably working on the answer right now.God bless and take care. 
Amy Ho-Ohn
5 years 8 months ago
JR (#18) "I have never heard anything like such rhetoric and if it exists at all it has to be the exception."
Anne (#19) " ... are you suggesting that Amy is lying ... "

Wow, calm down, you guys, JR didn't say I was lying, and throwing around words like "lying" is unduly inflammatory IMHO. He (and Mrs. JR) just seem to have a different criterion for misogyny than I do.

Maybe the word "misogyny" was unduly inflammatory too, so let me dial it back a bit. I consider the whole Theology of the Body thing anti-woman BS. The essence of the TotB is that women are "by nature" dim-witted, weak-willed, hyper-emotional, trivial little people (JPII uses the term "affective") whose vocation (saith B16) is "listening, waiting, welcoming, praising, thanksgiving and humiliation." Men, on the other hand, are "analytic", i.e., brainy, resolute, upright go-getters. Their vocation is "teaching, governing and sanctifying."

This all strikes me as a lot of wishful thinking on the part of a bunch of girly-men in lace. Basically, it sounds like the latter-twentieth-century Catholic priesthood identifying the less admirable qualities in their own characters (self-absorption, weakness, flamboyancy, intellectual vacuity), attributing them to women, then using that as a reason to dismiss and disparage women's ideas and contributions to ecclesiastical life.

Is that misogyny? Well, probably not, it's only a sort of pathetic, unhealthy neurosis. It's not going to make me stop going to mass. It's just rather off-putting and I suspect it ends up on a lot of younger women's "why bother?" list.

I've heard this stuff in Church (in my suburban parish in MA, my small-town parish in NM,  a parish I visited in WA) pretty frequently, sometimes masked in an unctuous sort of faux-admiration and more often just crudely paraphrased in a lot of inarticulate half-sentences, like your typical sixteen-year-old wrestler. The really striking thing is the huge contrast to the workplace in which I spend forty times as many hours as I spend in church. My workplace is full of intelligent, upscale, egalitarian, impeccably professional young people of both sexes, and even the females are extremely proficient in higher mathematics. The Church isn't going to get them to come by telling them they're too "affective" to be good at anything but nurturing.
5 years 8 months ago
It is no surprise that modern woman are becoming more like men.  This is nothing to be proud about.  The woman's liberation movement was all about making women the same as men; able to have sex without having to carry a baby.  Why would it not follow that the selfish desires of men and woman would not lead them away from truth?  We are in difficult times but trying to conform the truth to our time's selfish desires is not going to be the answer.
Vince Killoran
5 years 8 months ago
I agree with Ann & Molly: Second Wave Feminism was about clearing away the discriminatory structures and attitudes that prevented women from developing their full talents and nurturing egalitarian relationships.  Male privilege came under scrutiny so, of course, that has left men-and some women-defensive.

Men have benefitted as much as women.  Compare to my mother, my fifteen year old daughter has more rights-and responsibilities-as a result.
david power
5 years 8 months ago
Joe,

Yours is a clever copout I think.
None of us would be here if it was not for "selfish" desires .
God has made us that way and made his creation dependent on the ability of men and women to arouse one another.
We are all trying our best to co-operate with the Creator in this.
Why are women leaving the Church? They are not really welcome.Their experience is not really welcome. 
The Church is actually having to deal with opinionated and uppity women for the first time in history and is not winning them over.The Church cannot charm them.They are intellectually more curious than perhaps past generations and  the clergy of today are not up to the task of giving their lives meaning.  
I know some great young catholic women but they are all cut from the same cloth.They are docile and I smile as I see them go down an intellectual gear to humor the Priest who is preaching to them.The genie is not gonna go back into the bottle so hoping that these women go back to the role of heroic idiots that they played for so long while we could play the role of good-for-nothing idiots is useless.These women are passionate and intelligent and in many cases gunning for the church.WWJD?Take a look at the road to Damascus.   
5 years 8 months ago
We need to clarify what we mean by being the feminine gender.  www.saltandlighttv.org offered some ideas for discussion.  Visit the site and click on Catholic focus, scroll down until you get to: The Feminine Genius.
Crystal Watson
5 years 8 months ago
Why would young women want to leave the church?

Off the top of my head ... because of the church's stance on women's ordination, because of the church's stance on sex in general and contraception in particular, because of the church's stance on gays/lesbians and same-sex marriage, because of the covering-up of sex abuse.
Anne Chapman
5 years 8 months ago
Mr. Cosgrove, (#18) - ''Everyone is looking in the wrong direction.  The criticism is probably in the wrong place and especially on a Jesuit site because of the Jesuit's traditional role in educating young Catholics.  They have been a failure as has most of the Church education process.''

And what is the ''right'' direction, Mr. Cosgrove?  And can you also tell us specifically how the Jesuits - and ''most of the Church education process'' - have ''failed'' - with examples of these failures?

And are you suggesting that Amy is lying when she tells us of her experiences with homilies?

Or do you simply discount experiences that differ from yours - yours are ''true'' and others' experiences are not? 


Vince Killoran
5 years 8 months ago
Maureen and Cosgroovy love to use the word "nonsense."

 

We actually social science data (e.g., Pew) to help us understand the drift of so many from the Church. 
J Cosgrove
5 years 8 months ago
''Question asked - why don't women go to church.   First clue ....

Women answer question ... men tell them they're wrong.''


Interesting comment as if somehow it is an us vs. them in the Church. I never looked at it that way and always admired the Catholic women I met who taught me and practiced their faith and were an example for me as a male on how to live one's Catholic faith.  They were role models for me as a male.  My main point is that young women do not participate any more in roughly the same proportion as young males so to focus on women per see is missing the point.  I can speculate on the variety of reasons but come to the conclusion that it is what they believe and without a proper belief there can not be any faith.  After following the conversations on this website for a couple years it is easy to see why they do not believe anything any more
.


''The kingdom of God is much bigger than the church. ''  


True, but the Catholic Church is not a social club that one wants to belong to or a neighborhood one wants to live in because you somehow like the way it feels.  Neither is it just one of many choices that one thinks is appropriate at the moment.  It is ''The Choice'' set up by God and if one does not believe that, then one will not feel any strong reason to adhere to its tenets.  If will be nothing special but just a life choice like a job, the friends one makes, the team one roots for or the place we live in.  I will not be seen for its true objective.  The true objective of the Church is salvation and I see that only as a distant or peripheral thought for most people who comment of the role of the Church in society.  It has other roles for sure, but salvation is its reason for its existence.



''Lack of adequate information and subjectivism is reflective of Mr. Cosgrove's opinion. He has a right to this opinion.''


Well, I was taught by nuns, Christian Brothers and Jesuits for a total of 12 years of Catholic education and my thoughts reflect that teaching which was quite consistent throughout my Catholic education.  I do not consider them opinions but what I learned from those who teach the Catholic faith.  So I use it as a basis for my assessment of what the Church was and is meant to be.   In those 12 years I never saw anything close to what I see espoused on this site.


Without a focus on salvation the Church and its doctrines have no meaning.  Too much of what goes on for many is an exclusive focus on making one's personal condition here on earth better.  That is well and good but not the primary objective of Church doctrine which many lose sight of.  My guess is that the young people do not believe the Church is anything special in relation to salavation either because they never think of salvation as meaningful or if they do, the Church is just another option among many.  My guess that most never even think of salvation in a meaningful way.  So why stay a Catholic, go to Mass, or raise children as Catholics.  It is just a stupid choice to them.  They think they are being reasoable.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 8 months ago
My older daughter went to Catholic school for 9 years, and my younger daughter has been going for 8 years.  Our family goes to church weekly.  We attend special events, retreats, picnics, etc at church.  Their older brother is extremely active in diocesan youth activities.  Even now in college he goes to church every week and continues to participate in youth activities. 

The girls have had plenty of religious education, and plenty of time to develop sentimental attachment to the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, they both beg to change religions.  Neither of them wants to be confirmed.  They say there are too many rules.  I don't think it has anything to do with sex or wanting to be men.  Given their many feminine interests and activities, I think it is just the opposite.  They see the church as men's territory;  designed by men, ruled by men, for men, man-designed structures intended to coerce others to their way of behaving. 

Furthermore, they are not especially spiritually needy, both being very good at relating to others and being best friends with one another.  
5 years 8 months ago
Ann,

I don't accuse woman of being selfish.  I accuse men of being selfish. I accuse women of trying to be the same as men.
Molly Roach
5 years 8 months ago
For me the woman's liberation movement was all about expanding the possible paths I could follow in my life.   I am grateful for it.  I am deeply suspicious of the denigrating of the social emancipation of women as reflected in Joe Kash's comments.  I believe that the church has left women more than anything else.    
Anne Chapman
5 years 8 months ago
Joe, could you please explain what you mean by saying that women are trying to be ''the same as'' men?  And also explain why you think men are selfish?  That's a rather sweeping indictment.

The women's liberation movement was not all about sex, or even mostly about sex, although like the men in Rome, many lay Catholic men focus a lot on sex.

The women's liberation movement led to laws that protected women in many ways. For example, companies could no longer deny a job to women because of their gender. They could no longer fire them because they became pregnant. They could no longer ask questions that they wouldn't ask men at an interview (for example, when was your last period - yes, they used to ask that and similar questions - probably to determine if a woman was in early stages of pregnancy.)  They could no longer deny qualified women admission to previously male-dominated educational opportunities, such as medical school and law school.  They could no longer pay women less for doing the same job as male colleagues.  They could no longer deny women access to specific jobs due to their gender - except in the Catholic church, of course.  By having access to better educational opportunities, better jobs, equal pay for equal work, and job protection after childbirth, women became better able to care for themselves and their children in the case of a husband dying, or in the case of a divorce.  Fewer women were forced for economic reasons to stay with men who abused them or their children.

Is wanting a good education, a good job, equal pay for equal work, the ability to support one's family on one income if needed, or job protection after becoming a parent wanting ''to be like men''? 

And, if so, why do you see that as selfish, or wrong?
5 years 8 months ago
Last I checked, porn sites are the most frequently hit sites on the web.  Although the percent of women who frequent these sites is increasing this is still largely a male-dominated issue.  Porn is only the classic example of the selfish desire of men to use woman for their physical pleasure.  Women by nature have been more protective of being used since unlike men they get pregnant.  Now that woman are liberated from this natural consequence of sexual intercourse they can be the same as men.  Thats just great!
Anne Chapman
5 years 8 months ago
Joe, #9.  So, women are the ''same as men'' - sex without consequences.  It seems that you, like the hierarchy of the church, are so addicted to the sex issue (the trees) that you are missing the forest.  Few Catholic women even give a second thought to the church's teachings on contraception. They know the bishops are wrong, and it's not worth spending time on figuring out how to explain to celibate males what women intuitively understand - especially celibate males who have not the slightest interest in hearing what women have to say - about this or anything else in the church.

It doesn't matter much that women like me have left - too old to have more children. I raised mine in the Catholic church - I would not do so if I were young and having children now.  The article in question was addressed to the reality that the two youngest age cohorts of women - those who are still expected to be the childbearers for the church - are not staying in the church. Their children won't be there either.

Perhaps Steve is right - you are a ''troll''. It doesn't matter. This is my last post on the subject.

Michael Barberi
5 years 8 months ago
The comments about women becoming like men and the notion of selfness is reflective of a distorted sense of reality which is fueled by the ignorance of this subject.

Bravo to Ann and Marie for their insightful comments about reality and the Church. I have two wonderful adult children, a man and a woman. Both were educated in Catholic schools, both attended weekly Mass with me and my wife during elementary and secondary school years. However, when they became adults and graduated college, they made their own decisions. Both do not attend Mass each week and both believe the Church has abandomed them and the reality of the times...in particular the conflict and moral dilemma caused by sexual ethical teachings, but also about issues of human dignity. What drives many Catholics away from the Church is more than sex!

I have written a lot about the contradiction and inconsistency between doctrine and pastoral practices, about the word versus the deed in the Church. I chose to stay in the Church, and yes, I do attend weekly Mass. However, I also work hard for reform.

All you need to do is study the many surveys that have been conducted by theologians, especially the one's published by Dean Hoge, now deceased, of the Catholic University of America, to understand the attitudes and beliefs of Catholics across generational cohorts. The majority of Church members, the Body of Christ, do not abide by certain Church teachings. They have been drive away from the Church. Are they all invincibly ignorant as the heirarchy wants you to believe?  Are they all overwhelmed by the evils of the secular world? Could the reason be an unintelligible message, a seres of unconvincing moral absolutes that ignore the sufferings of the divorsed and remarried, those with a same-sex attraction, seriopositive couples and young married women whose lives are threatened by another pregnancy (and the answer for them is to practice life-long celibacy). 

Open up your minds and hearts and take a good deep breath of the suffering brought about by celibate men who put tradition above the hierarchy of values. Thank God that every teaching not received has been reformed. Unfortunately, we will have to wait decades before we see another John XXIII.
J Cosgrove
5 years 8 months ago
A few comments:


 '' But it seems to me that the statistics don't indicate young women are staying away at a higher rate than young men''  probably absolutely true.  So the  question is why are young people staying away from Church or not participating as a Catholic and not a focus on women.


'' the impact of the ever-more-noxiously misogynistic rhetoric emitted from the pulpit of the typical parish church.''  Nonsense.  I have been to over 40 different parishes for Mass in the past 5 years.  I have never heard anything like such rhetoric and if it exists at all it has to be the exception.  If anything when the reading by St. Paul comes up about wives being submissive to their husbands, the priest ducks this like he sees a cream filled pie heading to his face.


''because of the church's stance on women's ordination, because of the church's stance on sex in general and contraception in particular, because of the church's stance on gays/lesbians and same-sex marriage, because of the covering-up of sex abuse.''  Nonsense.  It was only a short time ago when the Church was even more authoritarian and male oriented then now and women were the heart of Church participation and very happy to do so.


Everyone is looking in the wrong direction.  The criticism is probably in the wrong place and especially on a Jesuit site because of the Jesuit's traditional role in educating young Catholics.  They have been a failure as has most of the Church education process.
Thom Nickels
5 years 8 months ago
I would say that people began to drift from the Church shortly after Vatican II. America Magazine seems to live in a dream world, where the legacy of that Council is mostly positive, leading to a so called Springtime in the Church that never occurred. The reality is quite the opposite. The Catholic Church has declined massively since Vatican II. Anytime you have 8 Protestant theologian-ministers consulting on the design of the Novus Ordo Mass, you have a major problem. The wholesale discombobulation of the Mass in the 1960s, as well as the destruction of many Catholic church interiors, led to a very serious rupture in the lives of many Catholics, not to mention a rupture in the organic traditions of the Church. Vatican II produced an entirely different Catholic Church, a sort of quasi Protestant Catholic Church with a Lutheran style Liturgy, nuns in secular dress, secular church architecture, and bad music. It is no wonder people began to drift away. The Church was too much like the culture; it was now just like many other churches. So why stay? As these liberalizing trends increased, the concept of the cafeteria Catholic came into vogue: Belief in the Real Presence fell by almost 50 per cent; Church doctrine became a joke, and people tuned into a ''higher authority.'' So: blame Vatican II, despite what some deluded America Magazine ex-editors write about that Council. The years after Vatican II have been a nuclear winter. Nothing less! Thank God for the Orthodox Church.  
Thom Nickels
5 years 8 months ago
I have met women in the women's ordination movement, and they do not impress me. I have even attended their ''Masses'' as a curious observer, and was totally unimpressed, even shocked, at what I saw: an improvisational Liturgy, a do-it-yourself Mass with ad libs and secular references, secular folk music, pop tunes, calling God Mother, hand clapping, using oatmeal cookies and grape juice for communion. This was done with absolutely no regard for rubrics or tradition. It was a joke. And a sad joke at that. In one case, one of these women ''priests'' refused to concelebrate with a male priest because she objected to ''the age old barriers of the patriarchy,'' or some such feminist nonsense. Once again, thank you Vatican II! 
J Cosgrove
5 years 8 months ago
''And are you suggesting that Amy is lying when she tells us of her experiences with homilies? ''


Amy said a typical parish church.  I have been to many (my estimate is 40) and never heard any of what she is talking about. In statistics if you take a sample and the rate is zero for a sample of 40, then one can be fairly assured that this is typical.  My wife is usually with me so it is not just me who shares this perception.


''And what is the 'right' direction, Mr. Cosgrove? '' 


I would look to what they believe about the Catholic Church.  If you do not believe it is anything special then why knock yourself out to belong to it.  I have read tons of stuff here that emphasized the point of view that the Catholic Church is nothing special and all sorts of people here who have abandoned it but continue to comment here with their criticism.  If the young people believed what the Church says, for example to go to Mass on Sunday is an obligation, then why do they not go to Mass?  The answer is that they do not believe the Church is anything special 


How many young people believe in the Nicene Creed?  Real Presence?  How many young people 50 years ago believed in the Nicene Creed or Real Presence?  I cold pick several other articles of faith but I bet the difference is dramatic between today and 50 years ago and then one has to aske the question why.  Who has been teaching what since that time?  The Jesuits teach more youth than any other Church group so they should look in the mirror to see what the problem is.
5 years 8 months ago
I suppose one can say we are in a state of disequilibrium....a state and a time of  great opportunity to find our desert and be quiet and listen to our own thoughts, feelings, reactions and questions over issues we care about, instead of shadow boxing, playing the blame game, making generalizations, shouting out resentments, judging, assigning faults,comparing apples and oranges or quitting altogether.  This is a perfect time to clarify, renew and deepen our faith.  And a perfect time to bring humor into our seeking and understanding the meaning of the Good News.  Fr. Jim Martin, S.J.  has lots of ideas/stories re humor and joy in the spiritual life, or in our quest for meaning while we're here breathing! 

By the way, I really enjoy reading everybody's piece.  Amid this very animated, lively discussion, the Holy Spirit is hovering over us all,  I'm sure.  I've learned a lot from each one of you.  Thank you, indeed. 
Carlo Lancellotti
5 years 8 months ago
Also a comment re. Michael Barberi's last point: if somebody thinks that he/she can have an interior faith in Christ without experiencing his real presence in the Church, strictly speaking he/she a theological Protestant. He/she may have been rised Catholic but for all practical purpose he/she already a Protestant, so why not become one?
Crystal Watson
5 years 8 months ago
The kingdom of God is much bigger than the church. 
Emily MacGruder
5 years 8 months ago
Many of the comments I see on here seem to be young women (or mothers of young women) arguing why they should no longer want to be part of the Church, men arguing against that and an older woman or 2 taking a similar stance.

I am an educated curious young woman who recognizes the faults of the Church but still am very much a practicing member.  I don't doubt the existence or power of the Trinity and that connection calls me to practice my faith.  My history, logic and (yes) emotions call me to practice that faith in the Catholic Church.  While I can't say I'm 100% sure of it, I do feel the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the sacraments of the Church all resonate truth with me.  But my faith and devotion to the Church have been tested. 

I've watched the woman I love and respect most in the world (my mother) attend mass every week despite never being able to take the eucharist (she's divorced and remarried).  My father ended his long battle with depression with suicide.  I am not the docile blind follower previous commenters seem to believe a young woman needs to be in order to stay in the church.  I have my masters degree in international development and have worked or studied in developing countries on 4 continents. 

I am "opininionated and uppity."  I am the "big brother" that my sister's boyfriends must go through and I have taken on men that are disrespectful to women at home and abroad.  And in my quest to follow God I have found my place in the Catholic church.  This is God's church, not men's.  Men are fallible and thus the leaders of the Church will be.  This does not excuse that and the church body must continue to work to address this.  But as I do truly believe this is the Church of God, I will work from within.  I don't judge those who leave but I do hope they are making that decision based on a calling from God and not personal offenses.  Just don't call me naive, docile or lacking in intellgence because I choose to stay.   
Anne Chapman
5 years 8 months ago
My apologies, Amy.  Sometimes I do get annoyed with men (and some highly defensive women) who choose to be deaf to what women are saying - it happens in many environments, but especially in the Catholic church. I debated about using the word that I used, but my patience was low. However, I will use less inflammatory terms in the future-even if they are accurate.  ;)

The inability to accept the particular truth of your perfectly valid ''perceptions'' is, however, a classic example of something that many men (and yes, some women) who are in denial about the patriarchal nature of the church are guilty of, most likely because it challenges all that they have comfortably and unquestioningly accepted as ''the way it should be'' throughout their lives. They deny your experience in order to try to validate their own as somehow ''truer.'' But, I confess that I should be less judgmental, as it was not until I was in my 50s that I began to truly see the patriarchy underlying so many church teachings and its governance.  After my eyes were opened, I also began to unravel the subtle but extensive  damage that is done as a result of the patriarchal worldview imposed by the church.

Is ''patriarchal'' a less inflammatory word than misogny?  I think it may often be more accurate, as it implies an unreflective and unquestioning acceptance of a two thousand year legacy, rather than a true hostility and hatred of women.  Those who deny the lived experiences of others - espcially men who deny the lived experiences of women  - are, however, at the very least trivializing those experiences and sometimes also  implying that the person who recounted them is not giving a true account.

Your brief summary of the inherent anti-woman assumptions of Theology of the Body is excellent - one I plan to copy and keep in my files, as the best short explanation of much of what is wrong with that document.  The same attitude permeates John Paul's other documents on women's ''proper roles'' (as defined my a celibate male).  It would be wonderful if you would summarize those also (Multeris Dignitate and Ordinatio sacerdotalis). Perhaps America could commission you to do a freelance opinion piece!
Emily MacGruder
5 years 8 months ago
David- Something you said about the Catholic women you know holding back interested me.  I would look a bit deeper into this if I were you.  That humble persona may not be because they are silently accepting all of the words of the priest or their assigned role in the church. 

As Christians we are counseled to take the route of a grain of wheat which falls to the ground.  We must die to ourselves in order to rise in Christ.  So I've always been most impressed by Christians who are able to pursue their faith in a way that is humble and modest (I have not achieved this).  But as a development worker I have also been impressed by those who are able to use the faith to pursue social justice.

A woman can argue for a stronger role in the church for sure but there needs to be an examination of conscience on if this is being done based on pride or based on really wanting to improve the church and bring it closer to God's plan. These women you know may speak very strongly in other venues about these causes and their actions might strongly promote a greater role of the women in the church but they may choose to do it in a way that doesn't let their pride get the best of them. The quiet are often some of the most impressive agents of change.  The quiet route needn't be the only one taken but it shouldn't be discounted. I should stress that I hold male laity and those in the religious life to these same standards.  But that's why it's so great to have men in the church joining the women in promoting a greater role for females in the church.  It becomes less about "promoting my own kind" and more about really trying to create positive change that will benefit the whole church community.

I too place great faith on the role of the Holy Spirit acting in the hearts of those in power to create some needed change.  In fact I'm with you in believing the Holy Spirit acts in the hearts of all people.  How to make it easier to listen? 

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