Fighting Feminism?

I once heard Pope John Paul II spiritedly identify himself as the “feminist Pope.” He was addressing our group who were participating in a Vatican conference devoted to women’s health.  Now many years later a Vatican CDF admonition arrives warning against “radical feminism.” It is addressed to some of the most admired women in America, the nuns of the LCRW.  So then, what is Rome’s definition of “radical feminism?” Does it differ from previous Papal and Vatican II teachings affirmiing women’s equal dignity and discipleship?

I identify myself as a “gospel feminist,” a Christian feminist who aspires to the radical commitment that manifestd itself in abortion debates as “pro-life feminism,” and in just war arguments as a dedication to Christian nonviolence.  And it is a given that gospel feminism adheres to Catholic social teachings on equal rights, dignity and justice for all.   


Obviously too, gospel feminists judge statements by their conformity to esential scripture teaching.  The command to love God and neighbor in action as well as in words, is crucial.  Also central to the faith is the good news that “In Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.”  All the baptized are to be united in, with and through Christ saving work.   

Unfortunately, one disturbing aspect of JPII”s statement on women, which was printed and handed out at the conference, appeared in its final section. After an inspiring and stirring declaration of women’s equality and an affirmative call for women’s leadership in the world, an oddly inconistent ending appeared. The Pope set forth his belief that there exists in the church a Petrine ministry (male) and a divergent Marian ministry (female.)  This approach seems to imply that possessing either a penis or a womb determines your Christian vocation and discipleship. 

Try as I may, I cannot comprehend how one baptism, one call, and one union with the mind of Christ can be divided by gender.  If nothing else, how could Christ's humanity lack any characteristic labeled as “feminine” or “Marian.” Only pagans and heretics insist that God possesses gender, so something seems askew and inconsistent in present rulings.  We may grant the need of  “evangelical correction”--- but in which direction and of whom?

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Rick Fueyo
6 years 8 months ago
One can make a very credible argument that the most radical feminist in human history, measured against the convention of his time as a first century Palestine man was Jesus of Nazareth
Crystal Watson
6 years 8 months ago
I think of myself as a feminist,  but when I think of "gospel feminists" I think of the Feminists for Life (, the group Sarah Palin belongs to, and I have doubts about the quality of their feminism.  Maybe I'm being uncharitable, but I think this kind of feminism is the church's co-option of feminism, a feminism (  that embraces difference and complementarity instead of paying attention to what men and women have in common.  The kind of feminism invented by JPII, that "dignity" stuff, is meant to define women and  keep them in their places, so the way the Vatican is treating the nuns should come as no surprise.
Tim O'Leary
6 years 8 months ago
Sidney Callahan is being somewhat disingenuous in his use of the term “radical feminism.” Unlike Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland (“When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean”) the CDF is constrained to use the term in the conventional or common sense, which refers to a form of sexual liberation theology that sees the differences in the genders as incidental or accidental (like the color of one’s hair or skin) rather than deeply intrinsic aspects of their persons, biologically (down to the chromosomes in every single cell of one’s body), vocationally, psychologically and spiritually. It denies the complementarity of the sexes and replaces cooperation with a competition where every role or vocation for one gender must be open to the other, for the sake of equality.
In practice, radical feminists are pro-abortion & pro-homosexual unions (the term ‘feminists-for-life’ is used as a distinguishing identifier – no group calls itself ‘feminists-for-abortion’ as that is a given in common parlance). In the Church, they begin by denying the uniqueness of the male priesthood (the Petrine ministry) and diminishing the Marian ministry. But, they end up resenting even the Eucharistic celebration and the use in Catholic prayers of the male terms used by Jesus for his Father and the Holy Spirit. Like the Marxist liberation theology of the 80s & 90s, these positions are not consistent with Catholicism. 
The generally anti-Catholic media and some liberal Catholic sites have completely distorted the CDF intervention in the LCWR. They suggest the CDF is worried about an undue focus on charity or health, educational and social work, which as an entity the LCWR does not do directly. They don’t live in convents, or wear habits, they hold conferences, invite speakers, write reports, give awards, take political positions, etc. It is the content of the speeches and publications, and the track record of the invited speakers, as well as the practices at the conferences that indicate the theological drift, dispute and even dissent on basic Christian tenets, such as the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity. It is the latter that caused the intervention.
The full report can be accessed here:
Julett Broadnax
6 years 8 months ago
Well, Tim am so glad you clarified everything for us - as having a womb makes us unable to understand that when women speak up about rights and responsibilities, we are being "competitive," but when men speak up about rights and responsibilities, it is because they are wiser than us dumbed down feminists and we should know better than to think it is possible to have an open and civil conversation.  I guess Jesus' position was not consistent with Catholicism either - for he sided with the oppressed rather than the priestly, self-righteous money changers.  Tell me, what is it about women's bodies that makes them incapable of any duties or responsibilities of the priesthood from a biological, vocational, psychological or spiritual aspect?   And you have a narrow view of feminism if you equate feminism only with certain individuals and their beliefs.  I certainly do not put all masculine figures in the same class as pedophiles - which would be just as narrow as your generalizations about feminism.  I will have to look up the report to see what you are talking about regarding the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity in relation to the oversight needed for LCRW.  And by the way, what are your credentials that make your opinions legitimate and believable?  I apologize for my sarcasm but I am good and angry about this latest abomination from the CDF, and am glad to see that many men are just as angry as I am about this dishonor to the very nuns who helped instill our faith within us.  I will wait to see what the LCRW recommends we do in support of their organization.
Julett Broadnax
6 years 8 months ago
I forgot to add, Sidney Callahan is a woman, not a man - Tim - you referred to "his use of the term" rather then "her use of the term, etc."
Thomas Farrell
6 years 8 months ago
In my estimate, the Roman Catholic Church is the Roman Catholic Church of Male Patriarchy and Male Dominance.

JPII was being a con-man when he referred to himself as the "feminist Pope."

As to so-called "radical feminism," anything that the male chauvinists in the Vatican don't like they consider to be "radical feminism," especially if it does not conform to the doctrines of the so-called "feminist Pope."
David Pasinski
6 years 8 months ago
"Feminist" is one of those words. It means so many things that are smetimes, in context, code for something else. I know women whom I would call feminists with avery positive connotatin for their espousal of a variety of issues - not just tradtional "women"s issues" - who now ballk at the term. I'm sure it has some descriptive value, but the nuances are immense. 

Nevertheless, despite predecesssor's usage, B16 isn't crazy about it.
Anybody snidely wish to mention red Prada shoes?
James O'Reilly
6 years 8 months ago
The nuns I know are among the most admirable individuals in the Church. We are fortunate to have them spreading Christ's message.
The comments of Tim O'Leary are an excellent reflection of the sexism in the Vatican, narrow-minded, condescending, and unable to grasp the concerns of women in the Church. Could have been written from the Vatican.
Other than the biological ability to bear a child, or to impregnate a woman, there is no substantial difference between the sexes, other than what various cultures have mandated over the centuries.
In Christ's century, woman were the homemakers and men the providers. Thus, the priests were men, and the women were their helpers, as in the home. A lot has changed in two thousand years, except the male clerical heirarchy's desire to keep control of the laity, and women even more so.
It's as if they fear that an educated, enlghtened laity and female presence in the Church's leadership roles might highlight the current, and historical, shortcomings of our exclusively male clerical leadership.
The Church is losing its young generations, it is losing its women, and it is losing its credibility as a beacon of light in the darkness. The pathetic denial of the role of the clerical heirarchy in hiding and prolonging the pedophilia scandal is driving many good, lifelong Catholics out of the Church, many of whom are not youngsters.
We have problems in the Church, big problems, but the nuns are not among them. They are just a convenient target to enable the Vatican to focus attention away from its own substantical culpability in the shrinkage of the Church's followers around the world. It is so sad; I pray every night for enlightenment for our clergy; they are increasingly the problem in our Church.
Rick Fueyo
6 years 8 months ago
“In Christ's century, woman were the homemakers and men the providers. Thus, the priests were men, and the women were their helpers, as in the home.”
Correct.  Which makes it interesting that, notwithstanding the very defined roles in first century Palestine, Jesus would dine with women (forbidden), not exclude them when others are being discussed between men, to the point of saying that Mary was better for being out among the men instead of in the kitchen like her sister Martha (Luke 10), appeared first to women after HIs resurrection, rebuked apostles who attempted to criticize Mary when she was anointing him, spoke with a Samaritan women at a well, and so on.
Is only part of why it stated that a strong argument can be made that Jesus, measured against his times, was the most radical feminist in human history, which makes it especially ironic that those who purport to represent him are among most retrograde on the issue of feminine equality
Dennnis MacDonald
6 years 8 months ago
I would suggest a reflective read of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's, 2004 ''Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and inthe World'' (Office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Given his reputation as an intellect and theologian, he surprisingly simply updates the traditional exclusion, subjugation of women by what seems to me to be a perversion of scripture, poetry, reason and contact with reality.

Note that he prescribes the relationship with ''men''  ''in the world'' as well as in the church. Early on he virtually insists on a literal interpretation of Genesis 3:16 - He terms ''God's decisive words to the woman'' (sec.7): ''....and he shall rule over you'', earlier he refers to woman not being inferior but a ''vital helper''. It ''builds'' the nature of women as ''the Bride'' relating to the biblical ''Bride-groom'': ''listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting - thus subordinate to and in service of ''the man''.

It seems that if you do not concur with this view and role for women - you are a radical feminist. As such, you are an adversary of men and responsible for homosexuality, sam-sex marriage,  and ''a new model of polymorphous sexuality''.

Sister Joan Chittister (National Catholic Reporter,August 2, 2004) was ''kind'' in her comments: ''But the real problem with the document is that its sweeping condemnation of the rising tide of women's claims to fullness of that it well simply be dismissed''. 

It does seem to have been dismissed, but in reality, I would suggest that it underpins the intent to destroy the perceived disease of intelligent, efficacious women in religious collaboration the LCWR - '' the church and in the world.
6 years 8 months ago
Tim O'Leary's comment on the LWCR  was so simple minded and divisive - I urfg those of you who can to read J. Peter Nixon's post at he Commonweal blog today for a balanced appreciation.
Unfortunately, balance is something we continually erode in matters Church or politics these days.
Tim O'Leary
6 years 8 months ago
Wow! What a lot of outrage from Julett (#4), Tom (#6), O'Reilly (#8), Bob (#11)... And so much hate for the bishops, blamed for so many ills, real and imagined. I guess complementarity and cooperation are out of favor on this site. It's all victimization, sexism and competition. Kinda makes my point.
Apologies for my mistake about the pronoun relating to Sidney (I thought that sexist pronouns didn't matter anymore, Julett). I see no one yet disagreed with the association of radical feminism with abortion (the ultimate child abuse) and homosexuality (the ultimate contraception). It's all about a grasping at power, at a distorted priestly role, interpreted as a position of power rather than a servant’s role in persona Christi.  But Catholic teaching is definitive on this point, as it teaches infallibly that it possesses no authority to ordain women, a teaching to be ''held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit  of faith.'' So, that cannot happen.
Radical is not always wrong, of course. One can be radically good or radically bad. A lot of what Jesus said was seen as radical at the time, including His insistence that he was God (before Abraham was, I AM, etc.); that only He was the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14); That His flesh was real food and His blood real drink (Jn 6). His establishment of the Petrine ministry was equally radical, with many promises (the power to bind doctrine, to forgive sins, to prevail over the gates of hell, to gather people from all nations and to last until the end of the world Mt 16, Mt 28). No other church, or religious order, or secular institution, has this promise.
Since its founding, the Catholic Church has been the greatest emancipator of women, and has many feminine heroes, martyrs, missionaries, leaders, saints and of course the sole perfect human being born of a human father, Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos). The Church is still regarded as a great liberator in Africa and Asia (where my aunt served for over 20 years as a missionary sister). There, women religious vocations are relatively exploding compared to the imploding in the US and Europe. Worldwide, there are 15 million new Catholics each year and the 2010 total figure was 1.98 billion souls (over 55% of all Christians).
Catherine Jayjack
6 years 8 months ago
Really?  The conventional meaning of ''feminism'' is ''a form of sexual liberation theology'?  Who knew?  Certainly not me or any of my (yikes) feminist friends of either gender.  Well, in the interest of calling a spade a spade, when you cite ''Marian'' ministry, aren't you really thinking ''Marthan''?
Dennnis MacDonald
6 years 8 months ago
''Kind makes my point'' writes Tim O'Leary. No it does not.

Your self affirmation is akin to asserting that proportional force in self-defence is bullying. Your rant about ''radical feminism'' elicited a proportionate response. Stripped of patriarchal institutionalism on the one hand and emotion on the other, one might opine that the responses made more sense than your rote repitition of the traditional misogyny (at worst) or (at best) misguided representation of the nature of ''womanness''.

Just because you state your case in paternalistic language does not render it credible. Their ''ire'' is, to my mind, quite justified  
Tim O'Leary
6 years 8 months ago
Cathy # 13. See Sidney's article at the top for the source of the term Marian ministry.
Dennis #14 - misogyny, rant, rote???
I knew I was wading into unfriendly waters when I entered this discussion. But, I am surprised by the vitriol.
Which of my 3 paragraphs did you see as a rant, or is your argument better served by avoiding rational disagreement on specifics? Is the very mention of difference tantamount to inequality, or even misogyny? My mother was a doctor and my wife is a lawyer. Chauvinism is not my experience, so don’t assume it is my view. I believe in full equality in complementarity. Of course there are different strengths and weaknesses in both genders, as any non-ideological person can see. But men cannot be mothers and women cannot be Catholic priests. The former is defined by nature and the latter is defined by Catholic teaching. Maybe, they can be priests in other religions?
Look, I know most participants on this blog do not believe in the Catholic Church's teaching authority, and so the disagreements on priests, abortion and homosexuality are secondary to the primary disbelief. But, if the faith is not received, it is man-made. If the Church does not have that authority, if it cannot be sure it has preserved the fullness of the faith, then there really is no point to the Catholic Church. Better to pick the church that fits one’s tastes. It becomes like the other Christian churches, trying to find its way back to discover the real Jesus. Jesus did not abandon us. He is with us still.
Rick Fueyo
6 years 8 months ago

it is hard to believe you did not anticipate giving offense.  in essence, you said feminism is about sexual license and equality, and suggested both were unworthy goals.   "Complementarity" is a not so thinly veled euphmism for denying that women are worthy of leadership.  i don't deny there is some authority for that position in the Church, but it is misguided, not of God and a current and future source of embarrassment 
Vince Killoran
6 years 8 months ago
Feminism IS radical-it challenges the many ways in which have power over women.  Those with power over others strive to make it seem "natural."
Tim O'Leary
6 years 8 months ago
Rick #16
I was speaking of the radical feminism that was referred to by the CDF, the more ideological and hostile form (the phrase Sidney ridiculed at the start). I am for equal rights and justice for women, as I said several times, but not sameness. I do not demand that they leave their distinctiveness or particular talents at the door if they want to be leaders. I have voted for women for leadership positions and would vote for a woman for President or other leadership position, if she represented my vision for the country, especially my concern for human life rights and for protection of the poor. And Mother Teresa (who I was fortunate to meet once) is for me an embodiment of leadership in my lifetime.

But it is illogical to say the Catholic Church is The Church and is also misguided about a definitive teaching on the priesthood (which was confined to Levite men in the Old Covenant - I didn't read about protests from the non-Levites that they were excluded from that vocation). How can that be, except that the Church is false in its definitive teachings, which would mean it is the wrong church. I know some here believe that, but how could a sister of the LCWR believe that and stay a member of the Church, except to hold onto power. Isn't that hypocritical? And how could the Church stand by and let false teachings infiltrate the LCWR conferences, over many years, and despite many warnings. Wouldn't the Church be derelict in its fidelity if it didn't preserve the faith?
Dennnis MacDonald
6 years 8 months ago
''Vitriol'' or proportionate response Tim. I guess it's a matter of interpretaion of who is offended and who is offending.  Your sacrastic stance with regard to ''mis-sexing'' the article author is revealing of your attitude which seems to belie your assertion of nieve innocence and reason. Re. rant, just reread your post.

So you would vote for a womam if she represented your view of the country? If you accept the John Pual II/Ratzinger/Benedict thesis of women as presented in the above referenced ''Letter...'', you would vote for a women who accepts a literal interpretation of Genesis, as Ratzinger insists is the ''definitive'' direction of God that '' the kind of relationship which has now been introduced between man and woman:''your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you''''. If, ''...the authentic advancement of women'' (to quote Ratzinger again) is premised upon submissive ''complementarity'', it is not complementarity, is it subservience. And he claims to be ''teaching'' on the nature of women '' the church and in the world''. That would be the orthodox woman of your vote.

Does  ''definitive'' teaching means because the pope says so or because the teaching meets the criteria for ''definitive''? The distinction merits reflection. If the latter then there is room for questioning and even objection. That is clearly the context for the exclusion of women. If one follows the logic of exclusion, i.e., the poetically beautiful ''spousal'' metaphor elevated to a sexually perverse theology, one would conclude that priesthood should be exclusively reserved to women.
Craig McKee
6 years 8 months ago
I guess it's ok for self-proclaimed ''gospel feminists'' to use the word PENIS, but not VAGINA? Kinda like George Carlin's old schtick on having ''to go tinkle.''
Anne Chapman
6 years 8 months ago
Thank you, Dennis.

''If, '...the authentic advancement of women' (to quote Ratzinger again) is premised upon submissive 'complementarity', it is not complementarity, is it subservience. '''.

 I vowed to stop posting. It didn't last long. But.....I find it very difficult to continue to participate in these discussions. After almost 60 years of being an active Catholic, I found that my conscience would not allow me to remain as an active member of a church that is not only patriarchal, but encourages the not-so-hidden misogny of many by ''blessing'' it and daring to call it ''God's divine plan.''  I could no longer support and enable the institutionalized misogny that has led to so much harm - direct and indirect - harm expecially to women and to children (and the protection of criminally sexually abusive male clerics by the male ''leadership'' of the church is part of that harm). It saddens me to see how many women have turned away from truly confronting the reality, as the women at the meeting she describes did when confronted with John Paul II's statements - the ''last paragraphs''.  That is because truly looking at the reality makes too many people uncomfortable, it causes the conscience to squirm and there is danger that their conscience might prompt them to think about doing things that they don't really want to do - that maybe, just maybe, they might have to leave their comfort zone in order to stand up against the lie that is being taught as ''God's will' 'by men who have the arrogance to call themselves ''infallible.''

Some of the excuses people give to justify themselves remind me of the old days when so many racists would say ''But some of my best friends are black. I work with black people. We have lunch together sometimes. But, their kids shouldn't go to the same schools as my kids. They're schools may be separate but they are still equal. God made different races and this is God's plan''.
6 years 8 months ago
There is no connection, Tim, between the Levitical Priesthood of the Old Testament and the institutional priesthood (ministry) in the Church.  In the New Testament writings, the world ''priest'' is used only of Christ ''the Eternal High Priest'' in the Letter to the Hebrews; and the word ''priestly'' is used only of the whole People of God in the First Letter of Peter, ''You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people set apart.''

In the early Church, the Greek word 'presbyteros' was used to describe the one who presided at the Eucharist.  'Presbyteros' means an 'elder' or 'one who presides'; it does not mean 'priest.'  Christians used that term to describe presiders into the Third Century of the Common Era.  As the Church took on cultural aspects of the Empire, at the time of Constantine, the word 'sacerdos' (priest) began to be used for those who presided at the Eucharist.  For the early Christians - and their undersanding and usage is normative for us - there is no connection between those who presided at their Eucharistic celebrations and the Levitical Priesthood of the Old Testament.  The New Testament Scriptures simply do not support such an idea.
Rick Fueyo
6 years 8 months ago
I also can never accept the broader reasoning that suggests a result which might appear unjust to humans is necessarily mandated by Divine will.  That has excused all manners of evil through the ages.

Consequently, I'm not comfortable accepting that women should have substatus just because that's what God required, or Jesus followed. As noted above, I don't even think that's a fair characterization of Jesus' teaching or example. I still think he was the radical feminist in history, and is appalled that the leaders of His Church believe  they must discriminate because he requires it.

But even accepting tha the scriptural record was clearerin support of such a conclusion, I cannot bring myself to follow it. I don't think that the God I worship tells us to act unjustly towards fellow humans, and that is exactly what we are doing when we decide that women are not worthy of Church leadership. 
6 years 8 months ago
''Possessing a penis or womb determiness vocation or discipleship''
Seems to work for parenthood; mothers cant be dads, fathers cant be moms. No knock on single parents intended. i'm a therapist and I always suggest that single parents with opposite sex children if possible have a same sex role model or mentor for that child.

''Only Pagans and heretics suggests God has gender''? What does that make Jesus who called God ''Daddy''(Abba)? 

Jim McCrea
6 years 8 months ago
Radical feminism, Si!

Radical clericalism, No!
Jim McCrea
6 years 8 months ago
Tim:  this part of your statement is absolutely 100% correct:  " - it is illogical to say the Catholic Church is The Church - "
James O'Reilly
6 years 8 months ago
Mr. O'Leary, our names are so similar I fear being confused with your comments.
Your opinions are a excellent example of why the Church is hurting so much right now. They are exclusionary, smug, self-important and blindly lacking in an understanding of why much of the Laity, and women in particular, are alienated from the clerical heirarchy that leads the Church today. Are you a bishop?
I'd urge you to take a retreat, preferably one led by a female Retreat Master, and ask yourself why your gender makes you superior in any manner to a woman? What is bothering you? This perversion of the role of men and women in society, and in the Church, is crippling our Church.
I'll say again, some of the most spiritual and admirable leaders in the Church that I've met in recent years are nuns. Unfortunately, I have not met many young priests that begin to give me hope for the future of our Church, and the good older ones are passing on daily.
We all need to keep praying for enlightenment for those who would discriminate against women, and who would ignore the co-equal role of the Laity in the advancement of the Church.
Dennnis MacDonald
6 years 8 months ago
Dear Tim O'Reilly: The apparant attitudinal context  would seem to indicate that the sort'a similarly named poster merits your rebuke. I would suggest that we should remind ourselves that the official position(s) on women in the church - and in the world, would seem to be closer to his views and consequently, prone to evoke a paternalistic superciliousness in attitude along with excludion, diminution and abuse in action.
Rick Fueyo
6 years 8 months ago
As I see it, the problem is the focus of the exercise of authority.  All of us who care about our Catholic faith understand why we are a hierarchal and not a congregational Church, and why we immodestly think that any part Christendom that does not follow this model is errant, however well intentioned. 
We are all well aware of the need for a conciliar and ultimately hierarchal Church in the early years to define orthodoxy, and intellectually combat heresies of the day, whether Arianism, Docetism, Gnosticism. etc.  We all had to accept what is orthodox, and understand that the continuing Church established by Jesus Christ understood him as all God and all man,  the Alpha and the Omega, the sole source of salvation.  You could not have those that believe otherwise belong in His Church.  Thus, the necessity of the hierarchal church to centralized teaching Magisteriuum. 
What is distressing of late is that it seems to be that all of the authority granted to define heresy and to ensure the centrality of the salvific role of Jesus Christ as the ultimate Divine intervention in human history is now directed towards a uniformity of sexual ethics and to prevent the horror of potential female leadership, and, the ultimate fear of female ordination.
This seems such an abuse of power.  The responses is always the same - it's right because we say it's right, because we have the power  Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is now solemnly defined, by single decree, and all of the weight of the authority granted to the Seat of Peter seems to be dedicated towards preventing contraception and any possibility of female ordination. 
Nothing seems more important to those in authority, except their own continuing authority.  Authoritarianism now seems an end in itself rather than a charism to spread Truth
All so distressing.
Tim O'Leary
6 years 8 months ago
Back from a trip
O’Reilly #27.
A good way to tell us apart is you have long ad hominem strings of insults (exclusionary, smug, self-important, blindly…). Never once in my posts did I pretend to be superior. I would be happy to attend a retreat run by a holy woman. But, I wasn’t talking about me. I was trying to discuss the theological ideas. This is the problem with so much identity politics. Ideological blinders obscure the truth. You and others assume that the only way I could support Church teaching on priests is if I somehow thought it elevated me at the expense of others. How selfish! I am neither bishop nor cleric. In fact, I am married, so I’m not even eligible (horrors, what inhumanity!). So, you can’t pin the blame on the bishops this time. Couldn’t it be possible that I accept Church teaching because I want to follow the teachings of Jesus and the Church he founded? No, there must be some zero-sum gain underpinning my motives. And why do you feel you have to denigrate priests in comparison with nuns in your post (all nuns are better than all priests???).
The main point in my first comment was that there is a type of feminism, termed radical feminism, that isn’t consistent with Catholicism, and that has negative consequences for society and the Church (suspicion of all men, resentful relationships, few children, fewer converts). Maybe, I should have used the term fundamentalist feminism, as more apt, but I stuck with the term used in the LCWR document.
When I state the official Church teaching on the priesthood (which I think no one here disputes is the Church’s teaching), it should be relevant only to committed orthodox Catholics (such as the LCWR sisters), having no power over non-Catholics. But I get a hail of insults, nether body parts, and over-the-top charges of misogyny, like-a-racist, and the obligatory use of the pedophilia card. Isn’t there something strange about this degree of anger and vituperation, on the wing of our politics that is screaming for more tolerance?
Dennis #19. From your second paragraph, I take it you consider orthodox committed Catholic women not worthy of political support. This is a major problem I have with the radical feminists (male and female) - an unyielding intolerance and ridicule of women who do not support their viewpoint.
Rick #29 I have generally appreciated the logic in your posts. But, the Catholic teaching on the male priesthood is not a novelty (‘What is distressing of late…now directed…). It has been the official teaching and practice for two millennia (through the time of all those other failed heresies you list). It is your type of feminism that is new. I am especially surprised by your comment in #23, where you say “even accepting that the scriptural record was clear” in supporting a male priesthood, you could not accept it. It appears that your type of feminism is your ultimate judge of truth, and your Christianity is subordinate to that. Isn’t that getting the cart before the horse? But from your other posts, you may have not meant that.
Jim #26. How very protestant of you! But the Catholic teaching on priests is subordinate to it being the Church Christ founded. If it isn’t (as you attest), then why worry about its more secondary teaching?
Thanks Ken (#22) for the dissertation on Levites, but you missed my much more minor point about the non-Levites.
James O'Reilly
6 years 8 months ago
Interesting reaction by Mr. O'Leary to my post, and others.
There is so much denial in his comments I amost don't know where to begin to respond; will try not to argue the nit-picks.
First of all, we are not talking about so-called Radical Feminism. No thinking person would deny that there are radicals in the movement to obtain equal rights of all types for women, just as there are radicals in any such sweeping effort to change cultural practices that are unfair.
The Vatican's effort to intimidate nuns in this country, and probably worldwide, is not about surpressing ''Radical Feminism''; there are few nuns who are such radicals.This Vatican effort is about telling nuns who is the boss, and who is to set their priorities, that their efforts to teach our youth, and to care for the poor and sick, to seek social justice for all, is a misplacing of priorities.
Instead, these nuns should be much more vocal, and activist, in opposing contraception, abortion and gay marriage. Such criticism denigrates the work of nuns on these other issues for decades as not sufficient if they don't also line up to march to the Bishop's tune(s).
Why is the Priesthood reserved for men only? Because that's the way the society in the Middle East worked two thousand years ago? We've changed numerous practices in the church since then, why not consider allowing half the human race to participate in the priesthood? Silly exclusion that is going to cripple the church in time.
I was not saying all nuns are better than all priests, or whatever you are trying to make of my earlier statement. I am saying that among the many nuns and priests I meet these days, more of the nuns appear to be intellectually and practically better prepared to deal with the challenges facing our Church than many of the younger priests I'm meeting, who tend to be more rigid and intimidated by the antiquated thinking coming out of Rome.
Many of the older priests will agree privately, but they are also retiring and passing away, and are not about to start another battle at this time of their lives. They also pray for the future of the Church with real apprehension.
As numerous commentators have said on this edict to the nuns, where in the New Testament does Christ talk about contraception, abortion and gay marriage? He does speak of care of the sick and the poor, and social justice issues constantly. Are not the nuns carrying out his directions?
I believe that abortion is killing a life; i do not believe that contraception is the intrinsic evil the Vatican asserts, nor do many priests and nuns. I think the ''Gay Marriage'' issue is a phony issue. If we had a Civil Marriage contract swearing and signing in this country as in much of Europe, and then a religious marriage ceremony for those who wanted such, it wouldn't be a political issue in the USA. If we take away the right of religious bodies to administer a civlil contract of marriage then the issue goes away. Churches can deny gay couples a religious ceremony of "marriage", but they can have a civil union contract. Much ado about nothing here in this country.
Enough, Mr. O'Leary and I will never see these issues the same. I believe the leadership of the Church is dangerously off course and we are going to go through a very bad period of seeing the Church shrink in many ways over the next few decades. We need reform, not retrogression to the Church of the pre-Vatican 11 era.
Tim O'Leary
6 years 8 months ago
Since this discussion has moved on elsewhere, I just want to briefly respond to Tim O’Reilly.

1. The male priesthood, that was established by Christ and has persisted for two millennia, has been infallibly defined. Your retort - this is silly.  That takes care of that. I think you need to dig deeper. For starters, non-Catholics are also excluded so one has to believe in the Catholic Church to be eligible.

2. You say there are only a few radical feminists in the LCWR. Then how come they have selected Sr. Sandra Schneiders for this year’s “Outstanding Leadership Award” (see their website). This is the sister they say has played a leadership role in LCWR for 10 years and who wrote (in Beyond Patching: Faith and Feminism in the Catholic Church): 'Since 1978, women have come to realize that we are not talking about how to organize the institution. We are talking about whether the God of Judeo-Christian revelation is true God or just men-writ-large to legitimate their domination; whether Jesus, an historical male, is or can be messiah and saviour for those who are not male; whether what the church has called sacraments are really encounters with Christ, or tools of male ritual abuse of women; whether what we have called church is a community of salvation or simply a male power structure.” No God the Father? Jesus a Savior only for men? Sacraments as tools of abuse?

3. You say the gay marriage thing is nothing, even though Catholic adoption agencies are being denied funds in several states because they will not consider gay couples for the children under their care. We used to complain about the tragedy of children not growing up with a father and mother. That complaint has disappeared on the left now, in deference to the gay agenda.

4. You say the Church is shrinking. But worldwide, vocations and conversions are up, especially where real oppression and martyrdom are daily occurrences. And the Church is still growing, according to all official figures, mostly among the young in poorer nations, although it is being abandoned for self-centered ideologies in many wealthy nations (eye of the needle and all that). See my post above for some recent statistics (#12).  While the average age of the LCWR is in the 70s, the new vocations are to orders that love Christ and His Church unconditionally, and are full of youthful joy and evangelical zeal, not self-centered resentment (nuns and priests - see Time magazine’s 2006 article on this “Today's Nun Has A Veil-And A Blog” by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen and Tracy Schmidt).

This reform of the LCWR is a baby step in the right direction. Let us pray that it will come to a good resolution and the LCWR will end up re-ignited with a strong evangelical mission.
James O'Reilly
6 years 8 months ago
Mr. O'Leary, you have drunk the Kool-Aid and there is little more one can say to you.
I pray for you and all other Catholics who are in denial about the future of our Church, that you may eventually understand the chaos caused by your rigidity.
This isn't about the role of women in the Church, it's about the role of the Laity in the Church, and the efforts of the Clerical Hierarchy to keep control in their hands instead of sharing with the Laity.
I was taught that the Church consisted of the souls in Heaven, the laity and the religious on earth. The male religious appear to have interpreted that to mean "we are in charge" and ingore the ligitimate role of the laity, including women.
Neither of us will live long enough to see the results of the current trends in the Church, so we can only pray that there is eventual reconciliation between the differing points of view as to the role that God wants for the laity and women in the Church.


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