01Oct Do church and state really conspire against women?

In the Irish Times Health + Family supplement on 1October 2013, on page 15 Jacky Jones wrote:
Religion and State conspire to keep women living in fear.
See: http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/second-opinion-religion-and-state-conspire-to-keep-women-living-in-fear-1.1545150

The second and third paragraphs of the article are as follows:

Every religion has saints and goddesses who contribute to cultural values that may protect women who conform to what society expects of them, particularly sexually, and condone violence when women do not measure up.
“As no woman can ever be saintly or godlike, religious views of how women should be provide a never-ending justification for abuse. Catholic women have the Virgin Mary to live up to.”

I realise this is dangerous ground to tread! Given that the Catholic church does not treat women and men equally, perhaps the following questions could be addressed:

  1. Abuse of any person, woman or man or child, is wrong. What percentage of women agree with Ms Jones that religious views of women provide justification for abuse in their own case? What percentage of women would say that this is not their experience? Has any survey taken place to ascertain what the facts are in regard to the part played in this by religion?
  2. What part, if any, does religion, particularly for Catholics, play a part in violence towards women? Is it different in other Christian churches which open all offices equally to women and men?
  3. Ms Jones says Catholic women have the Virgin Mary to live up to. We could also say that Catholic men have Jesus to live up to. What percentage of men would say that, in their own experience, religion provides justification for abuse of men?
  4. Men are normally physically stronger than women, and most reports indicate that women experience more physical abuse from men than vice versa. Statistics for violence – physical, emotional, etc,, by women on men are more difficult to ascertain. What is the current state of knowledge on this? Does religion in any way play a part here?
  5. What positive influence does religion have in relationships between women and men? Is the part played by religion in relationships between men and women predominantly negative, or is it predominantly positive, or is it neutral?
  6. While we cannot always easily separate the roles played by civil society and the State from those played by religion, in what proportions do State and religion contribute to abuse of women by men? To abuse of women by women? To abuse of men by women? To abuse of men by men?
  7. Is it true that “Religion and State conspire to keep women living in fear”? If so, how does that conspiracy operate?
  8. In all of the above matters, has the situation changed in recent years compared to 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago? Has it improved or dis-improved?

That should be enough to ponder on for the moment!

Padraig McCarthy.

40 Responses

  1. Linda, Derry

    Crickey! Happy thoughts day today then? :-/ I know it may seem a bit too normal for the modern cynic, but does scripture not exhort us to focus our minds on all that is noble, pure, lovely etc? With respect, it might be better and wiser to do that instead, keep on the Ephesians 6 ‘Helmet of Salvation’ to protect inner peace of mind. Jesus said “I leave you MY peace, MY peace I give you”. God Bless :-)

  2. Pádraig McCarthy

    Thanks, Linda – what you say is true. And yet, while keeping our focus on all that is noble etc., we still need to listen to the world around us, and also to those within our Christian community who may agree with Ms Jones, and to those who disagree with her. The challenge is to hold both, and to ensure that what is noble etc. is never obliterated by the other. Jesus addressed the negative. Pope Francis emphasises the importance of listening.

  3. Linda, Derry

    Padraig…sshhhhhh!!…I’m trying to think about sunshine, rainbows and butterflies! Lol! :-) I understand what you mean, of course the not-so-pleasant and sometimes horrific, for example paedophilia, aspects of human frailty and sin are an issue in the lives of many. That said, everyone with even an ounce of sense knows those behaviours occur and are wrong without protracted discussion and I believe it is unhealthy to dwell too much upon them. I believe calmly praying about it is much more effective as only the grace of God can really change hearts, and you manage to keep happy and sane yourself. God Bless :-)

  4. Patricia Howe

    Us women have the wonderful privilage to (perhaps, if it is our vocation) bring new life into the world. Men will never be able to do this. They have the option to be fathers (and it is an option; any man can father a child, but it takes a real man to be a father). We must not forget that the Church has stated that only men may be priests, after the model of Christ. It should also not be forgotten that there is violence against men by women, as hard as it is to believe, even within marriage. There is even sexual abuse against men by women. Again, hard to believe, but it happens. I suppose it should also not be forgotten that the sexual revolution/equality agenda has hit men very hard – one only has to look at the hordes of men trooping into the dole centres versus the relatively small numbers of women.

  5. Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh

    “What part, if any, does religion, particularly for Catholics, play a part in violence towards women? Is it different in other Christian churches which open all offices equally to women and men?”
    As a Catholic woman, I do believe that religion does play a part in violence towards women. Instead of the church taking the story of creation in Genesis where God creates us male and female, with no special emphasis on one being better than the other, but rather equal in importance, the church chooses to tell the second story of creation in Genesis, where a woman is formed from the rib of a man. This goes against reality, since there would be no man in God’s creation except if he was born from a woman, instead of the other way round. The Catholic Church treats women as second class citizens. In order to keep women oppressed, the Catholic Church also has demonized contraception in order to try to keep women “barefoot and pregnant” as the saying goes. I would think that in other Christian churches, where all offices are open equally to women and men, there would be more maturity and common sense. The Roman Catholic Church would be healthier if it accepted women as equals, if it let celibacy be optional, if it allowed both women and men to be priests, married or single, if they felt called to that service in the church, in my view.

  6. Mary O Vallely

    “Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change…for the present”. I can imagine many people groaning here about this issue of women v men and the lack of equality. I agree with Rosemary @5 that there is a deep-seated misogyny in the RCC; there always has been and unfortunately many do not even see it. It will take a long time to change but change it will. It will change if we all give good witness, as Pope Francis reminds us. Some day we will see each other as persons, not as men or women but as individuals equally loved by God, equally worthy.
    We had 5 men ordained to the Diaconate here on Sunday, 5 good men and true, all married with very “supportive wives” we were told but there are many, many women who could also fulfil this role. I see that the German bishops are now considering women deacons and why on earth not? What is the theological barrier preventing the Irish bishops also considering ordaining women into the Diaconate?
    Women generally have been more than patient waiting for change to happen. We must remain patient but keep raising awareness and keep giving good witness.
    Violence against women often stems from fear, especially from those who already have power or control. We must use gentle and persuasive means to tackle this fear of loss of control. Dialogue, dialogue and more dialogue is a start. :-)

  7. Patricia Howe

    DR Rosemary, maybe in your wisdom you can arrange for men to give birth to babies, that way we can all be equal!

  8. Sean (Derry)

    Dr Rosemary @No5, there are countless numbers of churches that can fulfil all the desires on your wish list but unfortunately (or rather fortunately) the Catholic Church is not the place you should be looking towards.
    Why do you even want to belong to such a big bad church that is so mean to women?
    Maybe you have the attitude, “I’m not moving until I get what I want, why should I”
    For me, it always creates the image of a customer in an Vegetarian restaurant, screaming at the waiter, demanding that he cook and serve her and her friends, sausages, chicken nuggets and burgers, and she isn’t going to move until she gets them (even though the owner explains that there are a dozen fast food restaurants nearby).

  9. Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh

    Sean,
    Women theologians have discovered that in the early church women were not only deacons, women were also priests and even bishops.
    In a graduate class for a Masters Degree that I received a few months ago, at Loyola University’s Institute of Pastoral Studies in Chicago, the Jesuit teacher stressed that everything written for centuries in the church, as in world history, has been from one point of view, the point of view of a man.
    The Jesuit admitted that men and women tend to see issues differently, and that it is very important that the voices of women be heard, and no longer suppressed by men, as they have been in the past, after the centers of church life left the house churches for more objective building sites.
    The bottom line is that the church that we now have has not been faithful to how the early church was in the beginning, where women and men were treated equally and equally ministered to others.
    Vatican II encouraged us to go back to our origins in the early church.
    Sadly,the past 2 popes have brought us backwards to a pre-Vatican II church that is all controlling and is resistant to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
    Please God, Pope Francis will restore us to the early foundations of the Catholic Church, before it was taken over by the Romans and made a state religion with leaders being princes, instead of the servant leaders that Jesus modeled for us when He was on earth.

  10. Elizabeth

    I agree with Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh above.

    The whole point of Christianity seems to be to place men above women.

    God is male yet there is no purpose of male without female. We have God the Father and God the Son with no God the Mother. This makes no sense.

    Violence in our society comes overwhelmingly from men and this fact cannot be diluted by saying that women are violent too as the numbers are so small as to be meaningless.

    Take rape where 99% of the perpetrators are men and 94% of the victims are women.

    Men do not fear women. Women fear men.

    The Catholic church plays a huge part in perpetrating Patriarchy which leads to women being devalued in society. This is an unnatural way to be and there are societies where women are ‘in charge’ and men are happy. Take the Mosou people in China where rape and prostitution are unknown. Men in our culture would seem to rather being ‘in charge’ than happy even when being in charge means that they fear each other. Men fear men and women fear men.

    There is nowhere in the world where men are abused, oppressed or discriminated against because they are men but many places where women are oppressed because they are women. A man may not be a priest because he doesn’t pass the tests but not because he’s a man. No matter how good a person she is a woman can never be a priest because she is a woman. Women are second class citizens and not quite human in the Church and this cannot but lead to disparaging views of women by men and by women too. This can and does lead to violence.

    Civil society in Ireland was dominated by the Church for so long that they can be referred to as the same thing at this point although that will change as the Church loses influence.

    We are at a crossroads in that women are more free from the Church than they were in the past as even the most devout Catholic woman will no longer allow the Church to control her fertility. Nearly all Catholic women use contraception even though it is against Church law. At the same time society at large is being more ‘male’ with male values becoming more normal amongst young people with boys and girls watching pornography and believing what they see in that males dominate and females are submissive. The Church being obsessed with glorification of the male has played a big part in us reaching this point.

    It could go either way in future but before we move on we must acknowledge the problem and name it in that men and boys cause most anti-social problems in society from reckless car driving to rape and murder. I don’t know why this should be but we must find out why so we can stop it.

    All elites conspire to hold on to their elite positions and it comes so naturally to them that they are not even aware that they are conspiring because them being in charge just becomes normal. When no one questions the status quo then maintaining the status quo requires no conspiracy but just let’s carry on the same.

    Excellent questions by the way and it’s essential that the Church has a debate about this.

  11. Joe O'Leary

    Sean (Derry), it is the duty of every Catholic to seek to make the church closer to the Gospel, ecclesia semper reformanda, and this means to make the church less misogynistic. Your idea that reform-minded Catholics should abandon their church is totally at odds with Christian responsibility.

  12. Pew View

    Some attitude from the IT ! Are we to blame the RC church and Our Lady for the hordes of young women(most of whom hardly know who Mary is at this point!) who are troubled by various eating disorders, image obsession, who are prematurely sexualised, driven by inadequacy and the desire to measure up into substance abuse ! Harder still to understand that such rubbish would be considered worthy of serious consideration by the ACP ! Why not consider instead the baleful influences of advertising, the cult of celebrity and the tyranny of secularism that would re-configure gender identities according to new norms that are not about equality but the myth of choice.

  13. sean eile

    Sean (Derry) – small comment on your restaurant image. In the church we’re more than customers, we are the owners through our baptism (cooperative!).

  14. Nuala O"Driscoll

    @10.
    Elizabeth I detect the same sense of frustration tinged with despair in your comment that I too experience. Are men superior to women because of the idea that God is male or is it because in reality, biologically men are physically stronger than women? For me it is the latter underpinned by the Former. For example in the second Genesis story, it is the man who is the victim and the woman who is temptress the sinner, and is cursed by pain in childbirth for her sin (3:16). It is the woman who is responsible for sin in the world.
    The Genesis story is so deeply embedded in our psychic that it is almost, it seems, impossible to shift the paradigm. That men are physically stronger than women is a fact. Male domination is how this fact was lived and interpreted and experienced through history, supported by the monotheistic religions. The Church had a chance to reinterpret the paradigm but it didn’t. Given human nature, if physicality was on the side of women the situation would not be much different I believe, that is why co-operation, mutuality, equality is the only way forward that will make a difference.

  15. Linda, Derry

    Patricia, in fairness, it is equally the case that any woman can give birth, but it takes a real woman to be a mother. There are some dodgy mammies too. Selfishness is not gender-specific.

  16. ger gleeson

    sean eile @ 13, you beat me to the punch. Who are the owners of the resturant?

  17. ger gleeson

    Having just read Elizabath’s post, I can fully understand why the church insists on women remaining second class cititens. Jesus weeps.

  18. pew view

    Nuala, Elizabeth, you need to think outside the cultural warp. There are a great many men in this country who do not experience equality at all as parents. Pornography subjugates both men and women.It is equally exploitative of both. Where exacly do you want to take gender equality? To top civic and political positions, to the front line of armies? Women have already gone there. Do you want quotas for armies as well as parliaments? Perhaps the fact that women despite their freedom to advance in all areas of secular life across most of the globe now are not proportionately represented ( in certain areas)says something about difference?

  19. Patricia Howe

    Elizabeth, you are in a bad place. I’ll pray for you tonight.

  20. Sean (Derry)

    sean eile @13 and ger gleeson @16, therein lies the problem for the demanding customers, because the restaurant (The Church) does not belong to the customers, it belongs to the manager (God).
    It is through our baptism that we are invited in, not to rewrite or change the law of God, but rather to learn the law, respect the law and practice the law.
    Individual customers can jump up and down and scream but the law of God has been given to us and it can never change.
    If you don’t like the menu that is on offer at this restaurant (Catholic Church teachings, traditions and doctrines), I know a nice little place where they have a great selection on their al a carte menu to suit a wide variety of personal tastes and some lovely lovely pick n’ mix confectionery.

  21. Nuala O"Driscoll

    @ 18.
    Pew View the reason why women are not proportionately represented in major institutions is because gender equality is a relatively new phenomenon emerging only in the last century. Patriarchy has been the norm from time immemorial. And gender equality is mainly a European and American middle class occurrence. Some statistics from UN research in 1975; Women constitute 70 percent of the world’s poor. Women make up slightly more than 50 percent of the population, but do two-thirds of the world’s work, paid and unpaid. Yet, women earn between 5 and 10 percent of the world’s wages and own only 1 percent of the world’s property. Women in the poor countries of the Third World put most of their earnings directly into the survival needs of their families. It is a woman who is most likely to head a household in which she and her children suffer from homelessness and malnutrition. The statistics for violence against women is distressing.

    Christianity has had within its power and remit for two thousand years, to raise the status of women, to treat women as equals and to afford them dignity and respect within society but Christianity did not. It is women themselves who have sought and gained equality and mutuality since the mid twentieth century.

    In ‘Catholicism’ Richard McBrien says there were three defining moments in the Church’s history. The first was its ‘Jewish moment’. The Christ event was proclaimed in the beginning within and to Israel. The Second is its ‘culturally determined moment’ when the Church became the Church of Hellenism, of Europe, of the Americas. This occurred with the decision not to impose circumcision or other Jewish laws and customs on the new Christians. The Third moment was the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council. This is the movement from a culturally confined Church to a genuine World Church.

    Is it now time for a ‘fourth moment’ which would equal in significance to the Second moment, and that would be to abolish celibacy and the exclusion of women?

  22. Sean (Derry)

    Joe O’Leary @11, POPE JOHN XXIII ain His ‘OPENING SPEECH FOR COUNCIL OF VATICAN II’
    Stated, “The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously.”
    “In calling this vast assembly of bishops, the latest and humble successor to the Prince of the Apostles who is addressing you intended to assert once again the Magisterium (teaching authority), which is unfailing and perdures until the end of time..”
    Despite the fact that some believe that the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II somehow called for the Church to rewrite 2000 years of Church teachings based upon what is popular, is just not true.
    The teachings of the Church do not have to Change but they can always be taught in a renewed way, as was also stated, “The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another.”[5] The teachings of the Church, our identity and culture as Catholics, must be loved and guarded, yet brought forth and taught in a way understandable to the modern world.”
    Regarding the option of people leaving the Catholic Church who wish to ‘change’ rather that ‘renew’,
    The Pope said, “The great problem confronting the world after almost two thousand years remains unchanged …. Men are either with Him (Christ) and His Church, and then they enjoy light, goodness, order, and peace. Or else they are without Him, or against Him, and deliberately opposed to His Church, and then they give rise to confusion, to bitterness in human relations, and to the constant danger of fratricidal wars.”

  23. Jane Anderson

    There are two forms of violence that I have suffered as a woman.
    Firstly, in the context of sexual violence and domestic violence, which, at times, was legitimated by perpetrators who quoted doctrine and biblical verses to me. When I had to take refuge in a women’s shelter with my children, I also received visits and correspondence from several good women of the Church. The visitors said I was mistaken and that my husband didn’t assault me. As for the other woman – a neighbour – she said I should return to my marriage and be a “martyr”. There is no doubt religion played a role in the maintenance of violence. I could give more examples.
    Today I am a scholar who studies Catholicism. I’ve suffered considerable verbal abuse from those who don’t think I should say the things I do. The content of that abuse is replete with discriminatory and sexist remarks. The institutional Church shuts doors both literally and symbolically on me as a woman and as a female scholar. No space nor voice is given to women, in the ranks of leadership and decision-making of the Church – not even in regard to their own bodies. And that’s violence too.
    Then there is the Virgin Mary – both mother and virgin. Women are set such an impossible standard that they are always viewed symbolically as a failure, which again legitimates the maintenance of the hierarchy. And the hierarchy is sustained by a principle of subordination. And who is subordinated? Women!

  24. Linda, Derry

    I thought it very funny that the Irish Catholic Bishops Facebook page of 23rd August referred to “St Rose of Lima ( Virgin) and St Eugene (bishop)”. Apart from indicating ignorance that many a technical, physical ” virgin” , male or female, may, in God’s eyes, who looks at the heart, be filthy with malice, deceit, lust, vanity, hatred and self-righteous pride at delusions of immaculate “purity”, I found the obviously inadvertent suggestion that St Eugene wasn’t a virgin hilarious!

  25. ger gleeson

    Sean (Derry) @20, yes we do have a difference of opinion on the basics of our church. You as stated believe that God is the manager of our church. I believe that God is the founder of our church, and our church is managed by a small group of MEN, who believe that they are the only people on this earth, who can interpret Gods plan for us. On this issue I fundamentally disagree with you.
    Going on your understanding, you obviously have no problem with the heretics being burned at the stake a few hundred years ago. Or limbo, with all those pure souls floating out in space somewhere, without ever hoping to see the face of God. Or some of those Popes, successors to St Peter, whose antics would make many of us, blush. And in more recent times, you obviously have no problem with the institutional church, singing dumb, when they had full knowledge of the rape of our children, by VERY FEW PEDOPHILES, masquerading as priests and other religious. You obviously support the idea that the institutional church is more important than the most vulnerable of our people, and the reputation of our church must be protected at all times. You are also aware that this atrocity was covered up during the reign of at least two popes. Just a very few examples of the “TEACHINGS” and “TRADITIONS” which are very close to your heart. Sorry, I cannot discuss dogma, as love God, love your neighbour is the only dogma that I am interested in.
    You are not the first Sean (Derry) to advise me and other likeminded people to move to another church. We truly love the one we were baptised into. We do have problems, particularly with a few fundamentalists, but by the grace of God, and led by Pope Francis, we will in time, change attitudes. I for one will always be guided by the compassionate Jesus, rather than any MAN made rules.
    Dr Rosemary (5), Mary “O” (6), Elizabeth (10), Nuala (14), Jane (23), and so many other women who contribute to this site. My heart truly breaks, when I think of the good that women could bring to our church, if they were allowed equality within our church. The engine of any good family is the parents. No engine runs without oil, and the oil is the mother. What a loss to our church.

  26. Elizabeth

    @17 Ger Glesson, would you like to offer some constructive response to my post rather than just being insulting to me, all women and the Catholic Church?

  27. sean eile

    Sean (Derry) I enclose below an excerpt from Pont Bib Commission 1993. It’s where I get my understanding of how the Church Works. What is true of the bible is even more true of the Church’s tradition. Constantly updating!


    F. Fundamentalist Interpretation

    Fundamentalist interpretation starts from the principle that the Bible, being the word of God, inspired and free from error, should be read and interpreted literally in all its details. But by “literal interpretation” it understands a naively literalist interpretation, one, that is to say, which excludes every effort at understanding the Bible that takes account of its historical origins and development. It is opposed, therefore, to the use of the historical- critical method, as indeed to the use of any other scientific method for the interpretation of Scripture.

    The fundamentalist interpretation had its origin at the time of the Reformation, arising out of a concern for fidelity to the literal meaning of Scripture. After the century of the Enlightenment it emerged in Protestantism as a bulwark against liberal exegesis.

    The actual term fundamentalist is connected directly with the American Biblical Congress held at Niagara, N.Y., in 1895. At this meeting, conservative Protestant exegetes defined “five points of fundamentalism”: the verbal inerrancy of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, his virginal birth, the doctrine of vicarious expiation and the bodily resurrection at the time of the second coming of Christ. As the fundamentalist way of reading the Bible spread to other parts of the world, it gave rise to other ways of interpretation, equally “literalist,” in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. As the 20th century comes to an end, this kind of interpretation is winning more and more adherents, in religious groups and sects, as also among Catholics.

    Fundamentalism is right to insist on the divine inspiration of the Bible, the inerrancy of the word of God and other biblical truths included in its five fundamental points. But its way of presenting these truths is rooted in an ideology which is not biblical, whatever the proponents of this approach might say. For it demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research.

    The basic problem with fundamentalist interpretation of this kind is that, refusing to take into account the historical character of biblical revelation, it makes itself incapable of accepting the full truth of the incarnation itself. As regards relationships with God, fundamentalism seeks to escape any closeness of the divine and the human. It refuses to admit that the inspired word of God has been expressed in human language and that this word has been expressed, under divine inspiration, by human authors possessed of limited capacities and resources. For this reason, it tends to treat the biblical text as if it had been dictated word for word by the Spirit. It fails to recognize that the word of God has been formulated in language and expression conditioned by various periods. It pays no attention to the literary forms and to the human ways of thinking to be found in the biblical texts, many of which are the result of a process extending over long periods of time and bearing the mark of very diverse historical situations.

    Fundamentalism also places undue stress upon the inerrancy of certain details in the biblical texts, especially in what concerns historical events or supposedly scientific truth. It often historicizes material which from the start never claimed to be historical. It considers historical everything that is reported or recounted with verbs in the past tense, failing to take the necessary account of the possibility of symbolic or figurative meaning.

    Fundamentalism often shows a tendency to ignore or to deny the problems presented by the biblical text in its original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek form. It is often narrowly bound to one fixed translation, whether old or present-day. By the same token it fails to take account of the “rereadings” (relectures) of certain texts which are found within the Bible itself.

    In what concerns the Gospels, fundamentalism does not take into account the development of the Gospel tradition, but naively confuses the final stage of this tradition (what the evangelists have written) with the initial (the words and deeds of the historical Jesus). At the same time fundamentalism neglects an important fact: The way in which the first Christian communities themselves understood the impact produced by Jesus of Nazareth and his message. But it is precisely there that we find a witness to the apostolic origin of the Christian faith and its direct expression. Fundamentalism thus misrepresents the call voiced by the Gospel itself.

    Fundamentalism likewise tends to adopt very narrow points of view. It accepts the literal reality of an ancient, out-of-date cosmology simply because it is found expressed in the Bible; this blocks any dialogue with a broader way of seeing the relationship between culture and faith. Its relying upon a non-critical reading of certain texts of the Bible serves to reinforce political ideas and social attitudes that are marked by prejudices–racism, for example–quite contrary to the Christian Gospel.

    Finally, in its attachment to the principle “Scripture alone,” fundamentalism separates the interpretation of the Bible from the tradition, which, guided by the Spirit, has authentically developed in union with Scripture in the heart of the community of faith. It fails to realize that the New Testament took form within the Christian church and that it is the Holy Scripture of this church, the existence of which preceded the composition of the texts. Because of this, fundamentalism is often anti-church, it considers of little importance the creeds, the doctrines and liturgical practices which have become part of church tradition, as well as the teaching function of the church itself. It presents itself as a form of private interpretation which does not acknowledge that the church is founded on the Bible and draws its life and inspiration from Scripture.

    The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life. It can deceive these people, offering them interpretations that are pious but illusory, instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. Without saying as much in so many words, fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations.

  28. cathy swift

    “Every culture has saints and goddesses who contribute to cultural values” –

    A great many goddesses and indeed the vast majority of Irish female saints (if you look at Padraig O Riain’s Corpus Genealogiarum Sanctorum Hiberniae) are mothers and the common factor seems to be the mystery and wonder of successful pregnancy. One of the many lovely things about the early Irish church is that authors of that period very often depict Mary not with the Christ Child and not at the Annunciation but as a pregnant woman; being criticised by many and totally unsure of the future. (That last in not in the medieval sources – they use images such as a shrine for Christ’s body – but its what reading those texts evokes in my mind.) Its very interesting I think that nobody so far in this string has mentioned Pope Francis’ call for a new theology of women in his speech flying back from Rio – I’m still turning that over in my mind and wondering how do you have a theology of women which doesn’t focus in on motherhood (which he mentioned as a desideratum) but which at the same time doesn’t get into cliches of male and female gender sterotyping. Does anybody have any ideas?

  29. Joe O'Leary

    Sean (Derry), of course Vatican II did not change basic church doctrine, though the Lefebvrites would like to think that the new teachings on Judaism, religious freedom, dialogue with other religions etc. constitute just such a change. A fortiori, those who seek to implement Vatican II’s vision of church reform are not calling for a change of basic church doctrine.

  30. Kevin Walters

    ger Gleeson (25) you write:
    And in more recent times, you obviously have no problem with the institutional church, singing dumb, when they had full knowledge of the rape of our children, by VERY FEW PEDOPHILES, masquerading as priests and other religious. You obviously support the idea that the institutional church is more important than the most vulnerable of our people, and the reputation of our church must be protected at all times. You are also aware that this atrocity was covered up during the reign of at least two popes
    —————————————————————————————————–

    And even at this present moment in time, with the credibility of the church in tatters, there is no blush of shame; instead we are going see pope giving glory to pope in arrogance, pomp and ceremony before all of mankind, and justifiable mankind (unbelievers) will look on and point the finger at those Christians (Roman Catholics) who live in the real world and cry out “hypocrites” !
    kevin
    In Christ

  31. ger gleeson

    Elizabeth, you have misunderstood my post at @17 above. Please read my final paragraph at 25 above, and hopefully then you will understand my position re women within our church. Please comment. Thank you.

  32. ger gleeson

    Kevin @30 I agree with you. You have hit the nail on the head. We do live in the real world. Those in Rome would really not understand what you and I are communicating on. They live in their own comfortable bubble, which hopefully will explode, in the not too distant future.

    Keep the faith.

  33. Sean (Derry)

    sean eile @27, taking your ‘understanding of how the Church Works’ solely from the ‘Pontifical Biblical Commission 1994’ is not the best way to find what the Church teaches, nor does the Church advise you to do so.
    I’m not sure if you are implying that I am a ‘Fundamentalist’ but either way it seems that you are confusing ‘Fundamentalism’ (one of the many ‘restaurants’ within Protestantism) with Catholic ‘orthodoxy’ (the ‘truth‘ served at the Catholic restaurant) and using the term as an attempt to discredit Catholics who cite the deposit of the faith of the Church (sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church) in a very literal sense to support authentic Catholic teaching and practices.

  34. Sean (Derry)

    Joe @29 , I am not a ‘Lefebvrite’ if by which you mean I am aligned with the The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and as I have explained to sean eile, neither am I a ‘Fundamentalist’. If I get the chance I will also explain to ger that I am not a supporter of paedophiles or burning people at the stake, however I find that such accusations are not uncommon should I speak in defence of Catholic doctrine. On the other hand if I consistently lambasted Church teachings I’m sure I would get a warmer reception.
    I have no problem with Church renewal but I do have a problem with the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II when it has no relevance to the actual teachings of Vatican II. Fortunately the so called ‘spirit’ of Vatican II is a very poor imitator of the Holy Spirit and therefore it is very easy to discern the difference.
    You say ‘those who seek to implement Vatican II’s vision of church reform are not calling for a change of basic church doctrine’, so do you think those calling for women priests are not calling for a change of basic church doctrine?
    (I’ll leave the question regarding calling for gay marriage and abortion for the moment.)

  35. Soline Humbert

    ” MY MOTHER THE PRIEST” is the title of an an interesting article in the American Jesuit magasine America.
    It highlights the fact that Paul , at various points in his epistles, uses maternalimagery to talk about his apostolic labours, sometimes actually referring to himself as a mother in labour or a breastfeeding mother. For example, Paul writes that he must behave “like a wet nurse caring for her own children.” Later, he writes, he “is in labour again” and must continue to nurse his fellow Christians with milk.( eg. Gal 4:19, 1 Cor.31:3,1Thes2:7) http://americamagazine.org/content/good-word/my-mother-priest
    How does all this fit in with the proposed “theology of the Woman”?
    Obviously Paul was man enough to have no problem being flexible with his gender metaphors…

  36. Linda, Derry

    Soline: God=Father, OurLady=Mother, Jesus=Son, ‘OurFather’= God=Male, ‘OurLady’=Mother=Female, Priest= ‘AlterChristus’=Male, Church (including Soline) = ‘Bride of Christ’= Female. Conclusion: Trying to say a priest is a woman will not work as an attempt to wangle your way into the priesthood…Ok? God Bless :-)

  37. Clare Hannigan

    According to the Vatican website the International Theological Commission in 2007 issued a document THE HOPE OF SALVATION FOR INFANTS WHO DIE WITHOUT BEING BAPTISED. The committee which was formed to prepare the study was comprised by Most Rev. Ignazio Sanna, Most Rev. Basil Kyu-Man Cho, Rev. Peter Damien Akpunonu, Rev. Adelbert Denaux, Rev. Gilles Emery, OP, Msgr. Ricardo Ferrara, Msgr. István Ivancsó, Msgr. Paul McPartlan, Rev. Dominic Veliath, SDB (President of the Committee), and Sr. Sarah Butler – nine celibate men and one celibate woman. The loss of a baby before or around the time of birth is a very painful experience for both the fathers and the mothers. Although the teaching, now set aside, that these babies spent eternity in Limbo had been a source of pain for parents – the Vatican commission could not bring itself to include a non celibate man or woman on their committee. Is this because the Church considers those who are called to Sacramental Marriage and the Sacred act of delivering new life into the world – to be in some way inferior to those called to Priestly celibacy – a calling which obviously excludes all women.

  38. ger gleeson

    You are right Clare @37. Celebate men and women know nothing of the pain that parents go through when they lose a baby at birth. That is bad enough, but to believe that our children would never see the face of God as preached by our church, was really enough to put many into deep unhappiness and indeed depression. That said, just another rule/belief that I for one never accepted.

  39. Soline Humbert

    The early church believed that all the baptized, women and men, were alter Christus, another Christ. In baptism we become Christ:” Let us rejoice and give thanks: We have not only become Christians, but Christ himself….stand in awe and rejoice: we have become Christ” (St Augustine). This quote was specifically pointed to by John Paul II in Christefidelis.
    Only in medieval theology would alter Christus become used exclusively for the ordained priest. But that distortion was rectified in Vatican II which deliberately chose not to use the term “another Christ” (alter Christus) in referring to the ordained priest.
    The Good News is that being Christ is not a male prerogative: Thanks be to God!
    http://www.womenpriests.org/theology/nupt_gen.asp

  40. Linda, Derry

    @pew view, no12: Regarding the morally deceived and corrupted young women who base their standards, aspirations and morality on what, in Truth, can only be described as indecent, often pornographic, filth and harlotry with no concept of self-respect , dignity or modesty among ‘models’ and ‘celebrities’, pray the Rosary for them. Our Lady said, regarding those, male or female, lost in the darkness of mortal sin, “This is the time of Satan’s Triumph” ….BUT… ” My IMMACULATE heart WILL, in the end, Triumph”. God Bless :-)