Is Gender Equality Behind Global Pro-Family Revival?

Bad news about the family alarms both government and religious leaders. More than ever it is obvious that only effective families can ensure a population’s health, economic and social welfare. The church also knows that it depends upon families for faithful future members. In the United States today the breakdown of marriage and family is producing deep concern, particularly over the future of children. At the same time the increase of the ‘religiously nonaffiliated,’ or ‘nones’ forces the church to confront the fact that thousands of former Catholics and their families have departed the fold.

Such concerns have prompted Pope Francis to call a Vatican Synod aimed at supporting and renewing Catholic family life. Catholics have long acknowledged the family as the ‘domestic church’ and the ‘school of Christianity.’ It is the primary cell of the larger body. Clearly, the life of the family and the life of the whole church are interdependent. They flourish or fail together—and affect the world.

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It is hopeful see the positive signs that appear. Religious practice is higher in more educated and more affluent families who are also more stable with less divorce. They also enjoy better health and more social capital. Their well-parented children have chances for future success in life. These are “the Haves” to whom more is being given. They are also part of what has been seen as an unexpected global pro-family trend.

According to family sociologists Gosta Esping-Andersen and Francesco C. Billari, writing in the March 2015 Population and Development Review, a surprising global ‘reversal’ in ‘family erosion’ is taking place. If it proves permanent then the need for a “Re-theorizing of family demographics” is in order. The retreat from marriage and childrearing by educated newly economic independent women has not materialized. Rather, a pro-family revival is observed with an embrace of previous levels of fertility. These demographers make their case for a turnaround with graphs, statistics, table and formulas but the gist of the message is clear.  

The causes for the pro-family revival are the spread of feminist influenced norms of gender equality and gender equity in marriage. The turnaround rests on the rapid diffusion of goals of equality, “gender-symmetric arrangements” and more social policies that make it easier to reconcile family and work. Egalitarianism in marriage has spread and encourages pro-family revivals—even in what they call “laggard societies.” There is a message here for governments and for the church. As the Synod on the Family reconvenes they will do well to emphasize the adoption of norms of gender equality, gender equity and gender-symmetric arrangements supported by government and communal policies of support.

 This affirmation of equality is in accord with the Gospel message. Human beings are equal children of God made in God’s image and saved by Christ. This revolutionary Christian good news of equality turned the ancient world upside down. Male and female, Jew and Greek, slave and free were united in Christ. Women and slaves flocked to the early Church’s saving and liberating unity.

Inevitably, conflict erupted with the inequality and male dominance of the hierarchical Roman world and family norms. The patriarchal head of a family exercised control over wives, concubines, sons, children, slaves, animals and other forms of property. Powerful families competed for power, status and wealth, so in the interest of family ambition, fathers could force daughters to marry, wives to divorce, infants to be smothered or exposed. It was a brutal, unequal system that directly conflicted with Christ’s command to love God, love one another as one’s self and humbly serve others as equals. Alas, as in many other cultures, the most necessary and naturally altruistic institution of the family could be perverted. And over the centuries the church also succumbed to the world and failed its own Gospel message.

But since Vatican II we know we are a learning church, ever on a pilgrimage to follow God’s will. Can we now hope that a Christian renewal of the family is happening? 

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Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
The “inequality and male dominance of the hierarchical Roman” was the foundation of the Roman Republic, the pater familias. The center of Roman life and religion was the hearth and the household gods, and the head of the family literally had life and death power of the members of his household. It was a brutal unequal system if the head of the household was brutal. If the head of the household was just, it was just. Christianity taught the norm is love (Colossians 3:18-25, Ephesians 5:21-33) but did not change the natural law foundation of family - father, mother, children - as the building block of human society. Industrialization reduced the father to near machine status. Then the rise of political systems such as fascism, national socialism, and communism reduced the family to a cog in the machine of the state. Radical feminism redirected the utility of the family towards self-fulfillment and self. The Church has consistently taught against these dehumanizing trends. As the current generation moves past the power theories of state and feminism, men and women who love each other and wish to make a lifetime commitment will return and are returning to the family as the basic building block of human society.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
It is hard to envision a renewal of family life that depends on just and loving patriarchs with absolute authority. Real love requires mutual submission. On the nuptial analogy in Ephesians 5, please consider John Paul II's explanation in his Theology of the Body, arguably the best we have about a theology of human sexuality and the sacramentality of marriage. Mutual submission, as in the mutual submission between Christ and the Church, is our hope for family renewal, and this applies to both the domestic church and the hierarchical church.
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
The family in natural law, the Old Testament, and the New is a hierarchy. That hierarchy should be based on love, but it remains a hierarchy. There cannot be a "tie vote". Practically in the ideal Roman family that was the case. Because it was an agricultural society practicing what we now call "subsidiarity", the head of the family had power that we find startling today. The power of the state was minimal. For example, we have all read of the Roman dictator Cincinnatus who was temporarily granted absolute power in war and then returned to his farm. The Roman ideal was that authority was exercised only in necessity.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
The family is natural law, and there is a hierarchy, but hierarchy and patriarchy are not the same. Patriarchy is just one form of hierarchy, and one that is pervasive as a result of original sin (Genesis 3:16). Patriarchy takes different forms in various cultures, but it is a universal phenomenon because it is rooted in original sin. There was no patriarchy before original sin. There was no hierarchy either between man and woman, although there is of course a hierarchy between God and humans. Some form of hierarchy remains a practice necessity for governance in the family and all human communities, but it does not have to be patriarchal. In the family, the father and the mother should have equal authority over each other and over their children. Sharing such authority in the proper manner requires *mutual voluntary submission* between husband and wife. The concept of mutual submission becomes most beautiful in the mystery of Christ and the Church, whereby Christ voluntarily submits to the Church, a nuptial covenant between Christ and his body, between God and humanity! Mutual submission is what the renewal of family and church is about, not patriarchy, or matriarchy, or any other cultural system made by human hands. Pope John Paul II wrote comprehensively about this in his monumental Theology of the Body. The most readable English version is the 2006 translation by Michael Waldstein. Still a bit dense, but worth reading, and there are many jewels under all the verbiage!
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
God the Father preceded original sin. It is de fide that the Father is the supreme source from Whom the Divine Nature and perfections flow to the Son. This hierarchy cannot be the result of original sin. Your task is to demonstrate that patriarchy is not iconic of the Trinity and is somehow a result of sin. In the story of Genesis man is created before woman, and woman is created from the rib of man before Original Sin. Both the rabbis and the Doctor of the Church and early Christian commentators believed Eve’s creation in a special creative act indicates her natural equality in dignity with him, while her being taken from his side implies her secondary role in the conjugal state (1 Corinthians 11:9), emphasizes the intimate union between husband and wife, and also the dependence of the latter on the former. The notion that the father and the mother should have equal authority over each other and over their children seems to contradict the plains words of Scriptures. I do not believe that is what St John Paul II intended to convey.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Are you serious? Do you really believe that "God the Father" is exclusively male? The Trinity is a communion of divine Persons, not a patriarchy. There was no hierarchy between man and woman before original sin. Do you really believe that woman was physically created from the rib of man? Well, man was created from dust, which is even less, so I cannot see why the mythical language of Genesis 2 should be interpreted in such a literalist manner. This is not how John Paul II explains the mystery of creation in the TOB, quite the contrary; and on this he provides a fascinating comparative analysis of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Do you really believe that the world was created in six calendar days? The "plain words of scriptures" may sound patriarchal because they were written in a patriarchal cultural context, but there is nothing in the TOB, or in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (also written by John Paul II) that supports such patriarchal interpretation of the divine revelation contained therein. See the TOB analysis of Ephesians 5:21-33, which very clearly explains what St Paul intended to convey. According to the TOB, the keys are "mutual submission" and "communion of persons," not hierarchy, let alone patriarchy. I may be reading into the text something that is not there, but may I cordially invite you to read the TOB again, from cover to cover? Peace!
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
Since I did not write "God the Father is exclusively male", it is unlikely that I believe it. There was a hierarchy between man and woman at the creation of woman. If you don't believe that, you are in conflict with the entire Judeo-Christian tradition. You appear to be importing the secular notions of androgyny, opposition to the natural law, and anti-"patriarchy" into a Catholic setting and forcing it into a procrustean bed. The use of the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not optional. The Church has not taught precisely how human sexes are iconic of the Divine, in part because the Trinity is a mystery, but it has taught that they are both iconic and intended. Indeed the conjugal hiearchy is based on love, not power, but it remains a hierarchy, as does the family with children, and the Church itself. St John Paul II reiterated that divine choice in his Apostolic Letter "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" which affirmed that the sacerdotal role is male only.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is NOT an infallible definition of a divinely revealed dogma. On the ordination of women to the priesthood, the door is provisionally closed but NOT dogmatically locked. This is not just about using secular concepts to articulate deeper theological insights; not that there is anything wrong with that, Aquinas used secular concepts of Greek philosophers to explain the mysteries of the faith. But this is also about liberating the Judeo-Christian tradition (with small "t") from secular patriarchal rules that, until rather recently, had been mostly taken for granted, together with slavery and other things, as "natural law." Again, may I suggest you carefully study John Paul II's Theology of the Body with an open mind and paying attention to what he says and what he doesn't say; "patriarchy" is never mentioned, let alone given any support as being essential for the Judeo-Christian Tradition. It may seem paradoxical that the same man that wrote the TOB book also wrote the OS letter, but would this be the first time that a Pope has spoken with both sides of his mouth for the good of the Church? The Trinity is a hierarchical communion of three divine Persons, NOT a patriarchy. The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," and therefore also a hierarchical communion, but NOT necessarily patriarchal. The dogmatic definition on the institution of the priesthood (Trent, 1563) mentions hierarchy and apostolic succession requirements, but a masculinity requirement is NOT mentioned. Clarification on this point is still pending.
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
I will freely admit you have some personal opinions about patriarchy. Up to this point you have adduced not a single bit of evidence to support those opinions. Relative to the masculinity requirement, the same St John Paul II you like in "Theology of the Body" wrote an Apostolic Letter which ended with this: "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." Unless my eyes deceive me, that looks like the clarification you were waiting for.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
It is a visceral issue that cannot be resolved by reasoning alone. Not sure what is the evidence about the passing of patriarchy that you are requesting. Again, with regard to reconciling the Theology of the Body and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, this would not be the first time that a Pope speaks with both sides of his mouth for the good of the Church. My conjecture is that the intent was to uphold apostolic authority on this issue, not to define a dogma of the faith. He uses the term "definitively" but it was not published in a "definitive manner" as prescribed in CCC 892, so this is NOT the clarification I am waiting for. See CCC 889-892, 2035, 2051. A successor of Peter has never made a mistake, and never will, when he infallibly defines something as a divinely revealed dogma that requires the assent of faith. Otherwise, of course they have made many mistakes. Contrary to what some traditionalists are saying, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (the 1994 letter by Pope John Paul II about the male-only priesthood) was NOT published in the "definitive manner" specified in CCC 892 because (1) it is addressed to the bishops and not to the entire church; (2) it doesn't say it is a dogmatic definition; (3) it was published as an apostolic letter, which is the lowest level of papal teaching; (4) it is entirely written in past and present tense, and says nothing about what the church can or cannot do in the future; (5) it didn't make clear it is an infallible definition at the time of publication, and the CDF saying it was a few days later doesn't make it infallible. In brief, it is authoritative and requires the assent of acceptance ("religious assent") but NOT the assent of faith. This may sound like splitting hairs, but it is the kind of thing that can happen (CCC 937) when the supremacy of the Petrine office is challenged by belligerent demands for change and the Pope judges that the church is not ready for the change. For some reason, this erudite Pope decided that the fundamentalist argument in CCC 1577 is the best we have at the moment to justify the male-only priesthood, but see also the "more essential" doctrine in CCC 1598. The first sentence states that the male-only priesthood is a choice, and says nothing about this choice being a dogma of the faith; but the second sentence makes clear WHO can make the choice, because the church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic." For more on this issue, you may want to read my current summary paper, Ordination of Women in the Sacramental Churches http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv11n04supp6.html#section9 But again, I am not trying to convince you. We can go around and around with a reasons and counter-reasons in a never ending loop. This issue will require prayerful discernment of Christ's will for the Church of the 21st century. This is about discerning what Christ wants for the Church in the 21st century, for the glory of God and the good of souls. Would Jesus, in today’s globalized world, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel? But if you are happy with the male-only priesthood, and certain that we can never have women priests in the Catholic Church, then don't worry about it and enjoy this beautiful Easter season. Dominus vobiscum :-)
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
As they say in my part of the country "That dog won't hunt, son." With regard to reconciling the Theology of the Body and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, I believe in the first instant you're reading into what you want to believe, and in the second rejecting because it doesn't say what you want to hear. If the purpose of "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" was to "uphold apostolic authority on this issue", he would not in the text indicated this was not a matter of discipline. He wrapped up Ordinatio Sacerdotalis with: “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.” which sure seems to be a "definitive manner".
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Not so by any means. Read again my previous response, items (1) to (5). Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is a definitive statement about the past and the present, but literally says nothing about what the church can or cannot do in the future. Read all the other dogmatic definitions, and compare. But again, if you are happy with the way things are, fine with me. I am open to the possibility that the devil, disguised as an "angel of light," is deluding me, but must in conscience express my questions and concerns, per Canon 212. At the moment, let us agree to disagree, pray for each other, and part in peace!
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
Obviously you skipped the parts about the Church "does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination", his rejection of the notion that "in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate", his rejection of the notion that restriction to males "is considered to have a merely disciplinary force", and his declaration "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women". All of this because we have the sacraments we have, with the forms and matter that we have, because of divine institution, i.e., Christ made them and that is the way He made them. That would seem to preclude the future as well without new revelation from Christ Himself. And, as we know, the revelation ended with the death of the last apostle, leaving the Deposit of Faith for the Church to transmit intact and unchanged. From whence do you see this revelation coming? Unlike the Latter Day Saints, we don't have a President or other office that gets "revelation" from time to time, and the New Testament specifically warns us not to listen to new teachings even if they come from an angel. Canon 212 binds the Christian faithful to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors declare as teachers of the faith. We are indeed entitled to make known to the pastors of the Church our desires. However, on a matter to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful, our doubts are to be held privately and shared discreetly with the sacred pastors. Otherwise we scandalize our fellow Catholics, needlessly causing them doubts, and thus cause prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
No new revelation is needed, the ordination of women to the priesthood is already implicit throughout the New Testament, and follows from Acts 15:28 as soon as the Pope decides to proceed. Saying that the church has no authority to ordain women is a temporary excuse to buy time. Note that the statement is written in present tense. Christ submits to the Church, and there are no limits to the power of the keys (Matthew 16:19, 18:18). CIC 212 and CCC 892 make it clear that only dogmas require the assent of faith. Some more time may be needed to digest the "unity in diversity" of man and woman as explained in the TOB. Let's try to relax and pray about this. Could we resume this conversation 1000 years from now, hopefully in more pleasant surroundings?
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
The Church has consistently rejected that the ordination of women to the priesthood is already implicit throughout the New Testament, and follows from Acts 15:28. It has treated women who underwent attempts at ordination as laypersons consistently. Lacking authority means lacking authority, not "for now". The explanation constructed declares, apparently with authority, that the ordination of men only is part of the actual divine institution of the sacrament. Admittedly you can "poof" all that away with an elaborate version of gainsaying, or imaginary Pope's fingers crossed behind his back, but everything you have suggested to this point has been considered and dispensed with. The power of the keys is in fact limited. It cannot create an eighth sacrament or remove one of the seven. The purpose of that power is not directed at new doctrine, or rewriting the revelation, it is a judicial power. I need to tell you that if you were a cleric or religious, making these sorts of statements publicly could subject you to a variety of medicinal sanctions, up to and including excommunication. There has been a small steady stream of these sanctions levied and this is going to continue since the Church believes the discussion is closed.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
That there are seven sacraments, not more or less, was not decided until the 1500s (Council of Trent). But this is not about the total number of sacraments. This is about why seven sacraments for boys and six for girls. I believe in my heart that this discipline does more harm to the boys than to the girls. Please read the dogmatic definition on the institution of the priesthood (Trent, 23rd session). It does not mention a masculinity requirement for ordination, so this point remains to be dogmatically clarified. It is wrong to intimidate people into believing, as a matter of faith, something that is NOT a matter of faith. Thankfully the age of inquisitions, like the age of patriarchy, is mercifully passing away.
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
There were seven sacraments when Christ ascended into heaven. Their enumeration and theological explanation (partial) first took place centuries before Trent, although Trent infallibly enumerated them for the first time. The dogmatic clarification you are looking for is in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The Deposit of Faith is like the potter's clay - it is what it is, there is so much and no more, and its characteristics are set. In response to questions and challenges the Church develops the revelation in ways to respond so that, with the charism provided by Jesus' promise "Who hears you, hears Me", the faithful are guided in accordance with the revelation rather than stumbling in the dark. Different challenges produce different responses, which is why iconoclasm is an obscure term to Western Christians, and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis appears to state the obvious to Eastern Christians. I do not believe that the purpose of Canon 212, and the disciplinary Canons under which clergy and religious, and also participants in attempts at ordaining women, have been excommunicated is intimidation. The purpose is medicinal, so that the individuals "come to their senses" so to speak, and align their minds with the mind of the Church, and to protect the faithful from the scandal they create when they choose to follow their own theologies and their own ideas rather than the Church's theology and the Church's teaching.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
The deposit of faith is like the potter's clay, and it is what it is, but the Church is now the potter who must keep remaking the pot in response to the signs of the times under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. To ask honest questions, and to remind the potter that the pot has to be remade for each generation of Christians, is in perfect compliance with Canon 212. This is a good question: Would Jesus, in today’s globalized world, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel? Should the potter remake the pot or remain forever attached to what is now an antiquated patriarchal pot that leaks when new wine is poured into it? I think the potter still has a lot of work to do, rather than presuming that the pot is already finished!
Patrick Murtha
2 years 8 months ago
In short, Mr. Gutierrez, yes. The Lord God would have done no differently now as He did 2,000 years ago. Why would God, Who created human nature and designed His Church, alter His Will because of some momentary fads or fancies? But to answer it correctly, you must look at it not as you would have God do, but as God would do what God does. Remember God's ways are not the ways of man. If they were, what a wasteland this world would be! God, being immutable, does not change His mind because a bunch of sociologists call out a certain fashions of a moment in time. This is clear from the words of St. Paul writes to the Galatians: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: if anyone preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema." And again, he writes to Timothy, "For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themself teachers, having itching ears." (2Tim 4:3). Now, we also know that St. Paul makes it clear that women are not to be priests. This is not to be considered an attack on women, but rather a recognition of the different tasks that God's will has assigned His creatures. St. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, says, "Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith." (1Cor. 14:34.) And again in Timothy, "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man" (Tim 2:12). As this is spoken by St. Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, these lines contain the authority of God Himself. Now as God saw that His creation was good, He saw that each being serves a certain purpose: each species, each gender. This is clear by nature. Man carries the seed and injects it into the woman, who bears the seed and brings forth a child. It is the foolishness of Marxist philosophy that wants a war of differences. Instead of looking at these differences within the light of God's will, it sows the seeds of envy, placing unnatural chaos between natural orders. When God created man, He created man to lead--and here I go back to my original point which you might disregard--with love and not with tyranny. Patriarchy, as designed by God Himself at creation, was built on a mutual love of God towards human beings, and human beings towards each other with their thoughts towards God. Eve, in the order of creation and the order of authority, became subject to Adam her husband. And the order placed by God was pleasant and agreeable. But with the fall of man--Adam's great fall--chaos erupted and this order became hated and repugnant to man and woman. And therefore, the order placed by God had to become a command by God and became a curse to man and woman. Work, which was natural to man by creation and by God's will, became a curse to man; childbearing and obedience to her husband, both natural to the woman, became a curse to woman. (Thus you have the fall-out of that chaos today.) Now back to the point, if God declared that women were to practice silence in the churches, as St. John Chrysostom tells us, they were not to speak out but were to learn from their husbands. (Oddly, this very point shows the significance of the husband as the loving authority in the home, whose duty it is to communicate with his wife; to talk with his wife and to share all his knowledge and possessions with his wife. For the Faith is mankind's great treasure.) This command, foolishly, by the Marxist mind, is seen a degrading to women merely because it does not grant to them the same that it grants to a man; but just as things are granted woman that are not granted to man, so also things will be granted to man that are not granted to woman. For God has made distinctions between beings--nature expresses this in so many wonderful ways: the distinctions between man and woman is beautiful and wonderful, the way each think so differently from the other, act and communicate so differently. It is so that each may perform their task assigned by the creator: the man to lead his family, even the spiritual family in the Church, and the woman to be, as Scripture says, "the helper" both in the physical and in the spiritual family. Each with their own part to play in the great Mystery Play written by God, but often disrupted by unruly actors who reject not only their parts but interject themselves into the roles of others. Now, I ask you this, if God wanted women as priests, would He not have made His mother, the greatest woman of all time, a priest? And yet, we know from Scripture and tradition that such a power was not even granted to Mary. Is this to degrade the Mother of God? Absolutely not, rather, she recognized her mission; she gave her "Fiat" to her mission and lived it with all of God's grace. You ought to read St. Thomas Aquinas who speaks on this matter of the female as a priest. Or, do you disregard Scripture, Tradition, and the writings of the saints who fit not within your design for the new pot? And are you limited to "The Theology of the Body"? The Church is not to be a battlefield for a power struggle, though human jealousy and conniving attempt to make it so. Rather, it is an ordered, living body which has been designed by Christ and must continue to abide by His will and not by the "itching ears" of clergyman and laymen who seek to overthrow the order set by God, to interject themselves into the script that is not for them by the will of their Creator. Man may change; but God does not. For if God were to change, God could not be God.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Revised, bad internet connection
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Sorry, bad internet connection, resubmitted.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Computer problems, my response is as resubmitted above.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Thanks for the extended response, but everything you say is based on the presupposition that patriarchy is divine law. That is NOT my understanding of our faith. My understanding is that the church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not necessarily "male-apostolic," i.e., not necessarily patriarchal. If you believe otherwise, it would be helpful if you let us know where to find a dogma about the patriarchal constitution of the Church. Please note, I don't mean hierarchical, I mean *patriarchal.* Please be specific: the name of the dogma, date proclaimed, and name of the signing pope. Another suggestion: can you tell me where to find such a dogma mentioned among the "essential beliefs" documented in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church? Please be specific, just give us the article number, e.g., CCC 1598. Surely, if the *patriarchal* constitution of the Church is a matter of faith, this would be explicitly stated in the CCC?
Patrick Murtha
2 years 8 months ago
Are St. Paul's words--or rather the words of the Holy Ghost spoken through St. Paul--in Sacred Scripture insufficient to prove that Christ's Church has as its hierarchy baptized males who are ordained to the priesthood? It seems that neither reason nor the words of God Himself please you. How can you believe the Catechism if you do not trust the Holy Ghost's eternal words in the mouth of St. Paul? But if you desire a number, you can go to CCC1577. You can go to Canon Law. You, who praise the words of John Paul II in "The Theology of the Body," ought to respect his words in "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis." But no, when it comes to this, you demand a clear infallible statement from a pope or from a council. You can call to mind the ongoing tradition of the Church that enacts the words of St. John, "But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written." (John 21:25). If you understand St. Paul's words forbidding woman to teach in the Church, it only stands to reason that a woman, thereby, cannot become a priest: for the priest's first duty is teaching. "Go, therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. 28:19). Does not the fact that Christ personally chose 12 men to be apostles to lead His Church mean something? Does not the fact that the apostles chose as their priests and successors men mean something? Or does it mean merely that Christ was caught, without reason, in conventional "patriarchal hegemony"? The Church is apostolic, as you say, which means it teaches that which has been given to the apostles, those apostles being only men, and handed down to the successors of the apostles. But the teachings themselves, as they lead to salvation, are for all mankind. That does not mean all things within the Church government are for all mankind. Now if you want a formal declaration that says that the Church is "patriarchal" with the word "patriarchal" in the definition, I would imagine that you would be hard pressed to find it. It is not necessary, for the Church is patriarchal in the sense that the hierarchy is made up of men. And It must be, for the priesthood, which makes up the hierarchical authority in the Church, is reserved, as stated clearly in CCC1577, only for men. This is supported by Sacred Scripture and Tradition. It is, therefore, part of the Deposit of Faith, and must be believed. It is ridiculous to think that this excludes females from the Church, from assisting in the salvation of souls in the way that God has willed and made clear by His choices within His Church. One need not be a priest, or be able to be a priest to work out one's salvation or to assist in the salvation of his neighbor.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
CCC 1577 is NOT one of the articles that identifies "essential beliefs." It is provisional doctrine to rationalize Canon 1024, and note that it is NOT reiterated in CCC 1598, which clearly states that choosing only males is a choice (first sentence), and who can make the choice (second sentence), but NOT that this is the only possible choice consistent with the deposit of faith. Doing something for 2000 years does not automatically make it a dogma of the faith. Patriarchy is a culture built by human hands. It comes from below, from fallen human nature; not from above as divine revelation. It is a rule of male domination that derives from original sin, and is by no means peculiar to the Judeo-Christian tradition. To recognize this is not to deny any revealed truth. There is a difference between traditions and Tradition. In this case, the difference has yet to be fully elucidated by the Church. This will happen in due course, and we must be patient, but we must keep asking questions and pushing for clarification, because we don't want the Church to be caught with her pants down. Don't worry, the Holy Spirit will not allow this to happen, and we should not be afraid of the truth. Let us pray that the Church will be able to separate revealed truth from patriarchal ideology. John Paul II provided a good starting point with the Theology of the Body. It may seem paradoxical that he also wrote Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. My conjecture is that this was required to uphold apostolic authority as the only one who can make the change (second sentence of CCC 1598). Apostolic doubletalk?
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
"Can we now hope that a Christian renewal of the family is happening?" My opinion is that a Christian renewal of the family must include both the family as domestic church and the universal church as the family of God. The patriarchal family norm of male headship is passing away, hopefully making possible a renewal of "mutual submission" in gender relations. This is what the nuptial analogy of Ephesians 5 is all about, even though it is expressed in terms that might sound patriarchal. The holy family was not a patriarchy. In fact, the holy family was a radical contradiction of the patriarchal family, the Child being at the top of the family hierarchy, then the Child-bearing mother, then the physically protective father. The renewal of family life is about mutual submission between husband and wife, and between generations, based on nuptial fidelity and reciprocity rather than one-sided domination. The Child was obedient to his parents, even though he is God. Mary and Joseph were obedient to each other, even though Mary is the Mother of God. So much for the patriarchal "order" of "natural law." The "great mystery" of Christ and the Church also entails a radical contradiction of the patriarchal norm of male domination. Jesus Christ, who is a divine Person and our Redeemer, submits himself to the Church (cf. Matthew 16:19, Acts 15:28, Ephesians 5:32, etc.) to the extent that he and the Church become one body, with the Church dictating what Christ is allowed to do as a sacrament of his presence in the world. Following on the apostolic decision to discontinue the patriarchal practice of male circumcision as a requirement for baptism, the time may be at hand to allow Christ to call baptized women to the ministerial priesthood. It is hard to imagine a renewal of the domestic church unless the hierarchical church ceases to be patriarchal. The male-only priesthood is a choice (CIC 1024) which is based on a patriarchal doctrine (CCC 1577) but is not a dogma of the Catholic faith (CCC 1598). Let us pray for the synod of bishops! Let us pray that Mary, "untier of knots," will help them to untie the patriarchal knots that keep the church from becoming more like the holy family. Let us pray that the Spirit will lead Pope Francis to bring about in full the apostolic decision to dispense with patriarchal norms that are now becoming an obstacle to grace.
Patrick Murtha
2 years 8 months ago
Luis Gutierrez, you have fallen into a conventional false perception of "patriarchy." Instead of looking at the model of "patriarchy," which is Christ and His boundless love for His Church, as St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Ghost, writes in Ephesians, "Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church," you look to the tyranny of particular persons and episodes in history. But just as a bad Catholic is not a good example of Catholicism, so too bad patriarchs are not to be used as the models of patriarchy. Patriarchy is simply that the father is the head, and not as a tyrant or a dictator but as a lover, who wills the best for the one loved. Thus St. Paul's command, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself for it." St. Paul, with the words of the Holy Ghost, shows that it is duty of the father, the husband to love, which is never meant in the romantic sense but in the highest sense, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) Christ, the true Patriarch and the true Educator, teaches that love, that is the ultimate sacrifice of life and limbs for the one loved, is the requirement of every head. Furthermore, your idea of the Holy Family is entirely false. In the Holy Family, we see the marvelous greatness of God. Christ, instead of assuming the authority in the family, looks to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Mother for leadership and direction. "And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them." You will also note that St. Joseph was, even by God Himself, considered the head of the Holy Family. For it is to St. Joseph, not to Mary nor to the Christ-child, that the Angel visited to give direction for the Holy Family. And we read that Mary and Christ followed the commands of St. Joseph. True, pray to Mary, the untier of knots. She will turn our prayers into her prayers, and lay them at the feet of her Son. For what son can reject the prayers of his mother? But also go to Joseph. Pray to him the Patron of the Universal Church. For what son can reject the requests of his father? And if God willed to put the Holy Family under the protection of St. Joseph, the Church, being under his protection, will be safe. Pray to Joseph, the head of the Holy Family; pray to Mary, the heart of the Holy Family; pray to Christ, the obedient Creator of the Holy Family. The irony of the Christ-Child is not found in the overthrowing of the patriarchy, but the omnipotent God working with the nature of family and becoming obedient to a husband and his wife.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Patrick, I respectfully disagree. May I suggest you are reading the scriptures through a patriarchal lens? Do you really think that "God the Father" is exclusively male? Jesus never identified himself as a patriarch. Being male or female is a limitation of the human condition, and what really matters for the sacramental economy is that the Eternal Word became human, not that Jesus is male. Mary made her decision to accept her unique ministerial vocation without asking for Joseph's permission, thus the need for the angel to reassure him. It seems to me that the model of mutual submission is closer to the mystery of the holy family than the antiquated patriarchal model of male headship. Christ is the head of the Church because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer, not because he is a male bridegroom. A rigid patriarchal interpretation of the nuptial analogy in Ephesians 5 reduces the great mystery of Christ and the Church to rules made by human hands. Mutual submission is the essence of the mystery. The great mystery is that Christ, a divine Person, submits to the Church, a community of sinners. Patriarchy can go (in fact, it is already passing away) and the mystery not only remains intact but shines with renewed splendor. I have found the exegesis of Ephesians 5:21-33 in John Paul II's Theology of the Body very helpful in this regard. Please try reading this excellent book with an open mind. Indeed, let us pray that Mary, who at the Annunciation untied the patriarchal knot of male hegemony in the domestic church, help us to conform to divine revelation rather than patriarchal ideology. This is not about feminism, or patriarchalism, or any other human ideology. This is about recognizing that the deposit of faith is inexhaustible and we should not presume that any culturally conditioned interpretation exhausts the mysteries of our faith; and this applies to both the domestic church and the hierarchical church. This is not about what women (or men) want. It is about discerning Christ's will for the Church of the 21st century. Christ submits to the Church but, after the resurrection and in today's world, does he still want to appoint 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel?
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
I would be exceptionally careful of androgynizing Christ as a divine Person and our Redeemer, without reference to his being male. Patriarchy is part of the divine revelation and the natural law. God made them man and woman, not Person A and Person B. This not a rule made by human hands.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
It is not a matter of androgynizing Christ. It is about recognizing that his physical masculinity is the result of assuming human nature with all the limitations of the human condition, one of which is sexual differentiation. Patriarchy is not natural law, let alone divine revelation. In fact, it is a consequence of original sin (Genesis 3:16). Indeed, it is a rule made by human hands, and it is not intrinsic to our Catholic faith. See John Paul II's theological anthropology (Theology of the Body) for a comprehensive exegesis of the creation of man and woman in Genesis 1 and 2.
Patrick Murtha
2 years 8 months ago
Luis, perhaps you ought to read the Church Fathers and the previous popes on this matter. Remember, even John Paul II's doctrine must be seen in the light of Scripture and Tradition. For he, as the pontiff, was bound by the same rules that all Catholics are bound--to read and understand the doctrines of the Faith in the light in which they were first given by God, who authority submits to none for none can have authority over God, for there is none who has knowledge or power over God. Anyhow, I would like to confirm that Eve, even before the fall, was subject to Adam. You are looking at this subjugation of wife to husband as one of a groveling slave to a tyrannical master. Remember authority must be based on love, such as God to man, Christ to the Church, husband to wife. The authority works for the good of the one loved. It is written in the Gospels and in the epistles. The obedience must be also based on love, a recognition of God in the commands of the authority. That is the basis of law. Any law that contradicts this basic principle cannot be a law, for it rejects the very purpose of law, which is to give order to creation and creatures under the umbrella of God's will. And God's will is inseparable from His Love, first for Himself as the most perfect Being, and then for man as made in His image. When God declared in Genesis that the woman shall be subject to her husband, He is saying that, because of the rebellion of man against God, the whole order of creation has been thrown into chaos. No longer is it a pleasure for the wife to obey her husband, for now she rejects his authority as given by God. This is also seen in Adam's punishment of work and "laboring by the sweat of your brow." Man was put into the garden to work, but work, before the fall, was a pleasure because it was the will of God. After the fall, when man's will rejected God's, this labor suddenly becomes tedious and tiresome. Therefore man's punishment, just as woman's, does not deviate from the original plan of God, but rather becomes difficult to do as the order of man's soul itself has been thrown out of wack. And for that reason, the passions seem to dominate the intellect when once upon a time the intellect dominated the passions. And even that domination was not of tyranny but of love, and the passions, which give a certain heart to the directions of the intellect, followed willingly because it was in union with the will of the Creator. Regardless of whether you or I like it or not, because this is the will and the command of the Creator, no longer can it be considered mere human creation but having divine origin. St Thomas Aquinas himself makes the distinction between two types of subjugation: one of slavery and one of order. The subjugation of wife to husband is one not of slavery but of order, for even in the creation of woman God creates her as a helper, as an assistant to the husband. Adam's position as "Father of the human race", thus forming the first patriarchy, is found in Genesis. He is the first human created. He names the plants and animals. He is given the task "to dress and keep" the garden. And once the Original Sin is committed, it is to Adam that God calls out. But because of the shallowness with which the way modern society looks on authority, there is a perception, false and foolish in its childishness, that sees authority as tyranny. Thus the foolishness of Thomas Payne in saying that government is a necessary evil. And so, Patriarchy is not evil as you so falsely paint it. The corruption of Patriarchy is evil. Therefore Christ came bring back order, which also includes patriarchy. He reminds the authority to rule with the rule of love, which is not the rule of sentamentalism or the rule of niceties, but the rule that desires the greatest good, which is God, to all men. And so, I suggest that you read Pius XI's encyclical "Casti Connubi." Pius XI writes, "This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband's every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in law are called minors, to whom it is not customary to allow free exercise of their rights on account of their lack of mature judgment, or of their ignorance of human affairs. But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family; it forbids that in this body which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love." "Again, this subjection of wife to husband in its degree and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglect his duty, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact."
Stan Zorin
2 years 8 months ago
Quote : "...so in the interest of family ambition, fathers could force daughters to marry, wives to divorce, infants to be smothered or exposed." Quote : "The causes for the pro-family revival are the spread of feminist influenced norms of gender equality and gender equity in marriage." The second quote about the feminists is an utter baloney, to put it nicely. To say it straight, it is a lie. These two statements do not fit together because the "feminist influenced norms of gender equality and gender equity in marriage" are worse, in their effect on marriage, than what the so-called patriarchal Roman family system was. The Romans preached morals and procreated and the feminists did and do neither, quite the opposite. 'A child prevents a woman to be free' and 'cheating on a partner or a husband is an empowerment'. Those two slogans sum up the feminism - just go over the stacks of women's magazines from the 1960s to 1980s, the feminist heyday years. The feminism brought about a steep drop of fertility rates in white population of European origin. If these rates have started to climb, which I very much doubt, then the increase is due to the wishful manipulation with figures and statistics by the feminist "equality" maniacs. The only ethnic groups which show greater number of births over deaths are the blacks, the hispanics, the Asians, and the "muslims". In other words non-whites. This publication, the America Magazine, should stop promoting loony social philosophies which have caused the collapse of families and of morals and which have brought about the mass murder of pre-born children on a marxist-satanist feminist whim. The "christian America" has been destroyed and you still want to promote the ideas which caused the destruction ?
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
I agree that demographic statistics can be confusing, but generalizations about "loony social philosophies" are equally misleading. This is more about discerning Christ's will in today's world than about endorsing or attacking human ideologies such as patriarchalism and feminism. Feminism is not perfect, like nothing human is perfect, but it is a sign of the times. Patriarchy is even more propense to abuse. Mercifully, patriarchy is collapsing. Christian families and churches will do fine without it.
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
"Patriarchalism" does not appear to be a human ideology if the Old and New Testaments are to be believed. The Church itself is modeled after the Hebrew family, with a father as its head. What seems to be a human ideology is that humans are androgynous, and that "patriarchalism" is unnatural.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
So what if "patriarchalism" is not mentioned? Feminism is not mentioned either. The OT and NT still OK. Precisely, the father as head of the family is the essence of patriarchalism, a consequence of sin (Genesis 3:16). Patriarchalism became "natural" after original sin, it was not so before. This is very well explained in Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. See his exegesis of Genesis 2:7ff and his teaching about the *human body* being most fundamental for human nature that being male or female (TOB 8) and also about the somatic homogeneity of men and women (TOB 21).
Martin Eble
2 years 8 months ago
I believe you are seriously misreading St John Paul II. Both men and women are equal in human dignity, but the complementary nature of the sexes in human society is not up for grabs.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
I may be wrong, but my understanding of the complementary nature of the sexes, as explained in the TOB, is not a complementarity of mutual exclusion. On the contrary, it is a complementarity of reciprocity whereby men are women are equal not only in dignity but in one and the same human nature. This fundamental unity in human nature (which he explains as "the original unity of man and woman") is not destroyed by sexual differentiation. He explains this in several different ways. For instance, in TOB 8, he clearly explains that the human body is more fundamental for the structure of the personal subject than being somatically male or female. He also explains (see TOB 21) that this unity is confirmed by the "somatic homegeneity" of male and female bodies. Sure, men and women are different; but they can "help each other," and become a communion of persons, precisely because difference does not cancel unity. The difference is not up for grabs, but neither is the unity!
Mike Evans
2 years 8 months ago
My old and sometimes thorny pastor had an admirable ministry that few people really knew about. He would visit the local hospital for an hour or so each day and make the rounds in the maternity ward. There he would greet and congratulate the mothers (and fathers) on the birth of their new baby and offer his blessings. In the process, he would make any arrangements necessary and invite and encourage the new parent(s) to have their precious little one baptized. No gate-keeping, no special instructions needed, just an open invitation to bring their faith back out into the open for the sake of themselves and their child. Many mothers remarked upon their memories of this simple approach and have testified that this is what brought them back to church and more faithful practice. By the way, if the new mom was not Catholic, he said he would be glad to call their own church leader and recommend them to him for a pastoral visit.
Carlos Orozco
2 years 8 months ago
Feminism is reviving the family? What a purposely misleading and knowledgeable nonsense.
G Miller
2 years 8 months ago
Carlos, Why would anyone want to be married when it means being less than their full potential? When each partner is co-responsible and co-accountable it makes for a stronger, healthier marriage. Most people recognize that life should be shared sacrifice and each should participate according to their individual gifts not according to old, rigid roles based upon gender.
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Indeed, this is the concept of *mutual submission* that runs across the entire Gospel and is beautifully summarized by St. Paul in Ephesians 5:21-33. Too bad this text is often misunderstood in a rigid patriarchal sense. The essence of the analogy is that husband and wife should submit to each other, as Christ and the Church submit to each other. Actually, Christ has already submitted to the Church, but the Church still has a long way to go in submitting to Christ!
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
For your consideration: "As Jesus refused to send Mary to assist her sister Martha in the household chores, we must resist the unfortunate old tendencies to limited ideas of women’s roles." Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, April 14, 2015 http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/04/14/cardinal_speaks_on_womens_leadership_in_conflict_resolution/1136794 Only in conflict resolution? Why not in building the body of Christ? On the balance between unity and complementarity: General audience: the complementarity between man and woman, Pope Francis, April 15, 2015 http://visnews-en.blogspot.com/2015/04/general-audience-complementarity.html What about unity and complementarity, and man/woman balance, in the church hierarchy?
Luis Gutierrez
2 years 8 months ago
Isn't it even more misleading to suggest that patriarchalism can revive the family? Nothing does more harm to the domestic church, and to the Church as a family, than patriarchal machismo.

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