A Catholic woman I know was steamed when she read the report about the Pope’s impromptu 90-minute Press Conference on the Plane the other day. She noted that, amidst all the attention paid to the Holy Father’s professed compassion and loving-kindness toward gays, he once again firmly slammed the door in the face of female Catholics, and that this equally important fact was relegated to the bottom of the story.
She knows, as do so many of her coreligionist sisters, that the Church couldn’t run without women. They man (woman?) the engine room of the Ship of Faith. Without nuns and female Catholic laity, schools couldn’t teach, churches couldn’t open for worship, hospitals couldn’t provide succor to the sick, and any number of other real-life functions overseen by the red-sock men’s club in Rome would grind to a halt.
She is exasperated when she hears the standard dodge about why males should dominate the Church — and Francis is apparently no exception. “I’m sick of them always dragging out the Blessed Virgin Mary, and saying she’s revered above all priests, bishops and everybody else,” she says. “This is supposed to mollify us. Then they say they want women to have a more expanded role. You know what that means? More cooking, cleaning, servicing.”
We don’t even discuss the way the Vatican slapped down the American nuns a year or two ago for having the gall to follow their own consciences when it came to interpreting Church doctrine. That sends her into a righteous fury.
She’s happy that the powers that be are showing a little flexibility when it comes to gay Catholics. You never know what might happen to the clergy if the Church decided to stage a purge of the ranks based on sexual orientation. It could get ugly. She just wonders what it is about women that makes them unsuitable, in the eyes of the leadership, to handle the Holy Sacraments. Not only would there have been no Jesus without the involvement of a woman, but He did, also, accept one of them among his coterie of followers.
My Catholic friend awaits a change in Church policy that will finally honor, respect and legitimize the faith of women. Wisely, she isn’t expecting any big breakthroughs within her lifetime.
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