I’m so tired of hearing how the Church doesn’t respect women, how the Church oppresses women, how the Church doesn’t want women in important roles, and so forth. It’s there anytime I open a newspaper, turn on the TV, or read online news sources about the Church. Time after time after time.
Give. Me. A. Break!
Seriously, where are they getting this stuff? The Church loves women! The Church celebrates women!
Now, if you are reading this website, you know this already. You can commiserate with me in this treatment of us as women by the mainstream media. Who’s really bashing women here? It ain’t the Church. Am I right, ladies (and gentlemen, too)?
I wish I could list all the ways the Church celebrates us as women in our vocations, supports our roles in the Church, and respects our innate dignity as women. The list would be long, I’m certain of it!
So let’s go for it! I’ll start ….
#1 The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God
Women don’t get important roles in the Church? Hello! THE most important role ever in the Church is Mother of God. We wouldn’t have a Church if it wasn’t for Mary. And her role didn’t end with bringing Jesus into the world. No siree! Mary is honored in so many ways with churches named after her, many feast days in her honor, countless devotions to her and much more. Above any other human being in the Church, Mary receives the highest praise and recognition.
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.’” (Luke 1:46-48)
And as a humble woman, Mary is a role model for the rest of us in our vocations, whatever that vocation is: motherhood, wife, religious sister.
The Church bestows its greatest honor on a woman–Jesus’ own mother.
#2 Equal in Marriage
One of the things I love about weddings in the Catholic Church is that the bride is not “given away” as is done in many other faiths. The father, or someone in his place, can still walk her down the aisle if the couple so chooses to do things that way, but you won’t hear a Catholic priest ask, “Who gives this woman to this man?” Marriage is a free choice between the man and the woman. We, as women, are equal partners in marriage with our husbands. The Church’s view on marriage is beautiful and completely respects the dignity of women.
“The woman, ‘flesh of his flesh,’ his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a ‘helpmate’; she thus represents God from whom comes our help.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1605)
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. … however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:25-28, 33)
“According to the Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church.” (CCC #1623)
#3 The Dignity of the Female Body
No, the Church doesn’t expect us to have as many children as we physically can and to be barefoot and pregnant throughout all of our fertile years.
Yes, the Church does expect us to not use artificial means of contraception.
Will we ever get the secular world to understand why we are granted great dignity by not using contraceptives?
That’s right, great dignity. I like that I don’t feel compelled to put artificial hormones in my body so that it will work contrary to its intended purpose. I like that the Church recognizes that fact. I like that my husband respects me enough to not want me putting those drugs into my body.
But not only that–heck, that’s just the tip of the iceberg–pregnancy is not a disease. Drugs are for curing diseases. Our fertility as women is a natural function of the our bodies. We can learn the patterns of our bodies so that we can avoid pregnancy when we discern that to be a necessity, but otherwise, we should be open to life. A life we create with our husbands in conjunction with God.
I could go on and on in regard to this point. But I won’t. [You’re welcome.] Instead, if you haven’t read it, or haven’t read it in a long time, I encourage you to read Humanae Vitae. By the way, this coming Wednesday is HV’s 44th anniversary. So it’s a good time to give it another look.
#4 The Vocations of Womanhood
One of the unfortunate consequences of the feminist movement is the false idea that men and women have absolutely no differences and that whatever a man can do so can a woman. Deep down, whether people want to admit it or not, everyone knows that men and women are different. That’s not a bad thing. We are different people and we have different roles.Does not having a female priesthood make us lesser individuals in the eyes of the Church? Absolutely not! We have important roles to play too. In our vocations as women, we can assist in the preparation of Mass and serve the Church in volunteer roles. In our vocations as mothers, we can nurture a culture of vocations within our Domestic Church whereby we bring up children who may choose to enter the holy priesthood or religious life. In our vocation as religious sisters, we can serve the Church in ministry, pray for the Church, and be spiritual mothers to all the lay faithful. Regardless of our vocational call, we should always be praying for the Church, for the priesthood, and for the future generations of Catholic faithful.
Now can anyone say that any of these roles aren’t important? Of course not. Let’s celebrate our roles in the Church and support the roles of the men in our lives.
In all four of the points above I see nothing but joyful respect for the dignity of all women as equal parts in the Body of Christ, the Church. The Church indeed does celebrate women and rejoices in all that we do for Holy Mother Church. But this list is only a beginning.
What would you add to the list? How do you feel the Church celebrates women?
64 Replies to “Celebrating Womanhood Catholic Church Style”
Well said. I’m glad you put this together so eloquently.
I’d say taking a strong stance on Pro-Life issues is a way of honoring women. Abortion harms women physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc. The Church knows this and refuses to condone anything which will bring such harm to women. Also, as we’ve seen in the recent Planned Parenthood sting videos, gendercide is very much real in this country. Taking a strong stance against the deliberate gender-biased abortion of girls is something in which the Church will always be forerunners. Abortion kills babies (many times, deliberately female babies), harms women, hurts families, etc. I’d say the Church being pro-life is a way of showing that they are very pro-women!
I agree with you Kerri, the true dignity of a woman is protected and celebrated in our Church! You are right, birth control hurts women in so many ways, but I would like to add that through her teachings against the use of birth control, our Church also protects a woman in her mother’s own womb against abortifacient drugs. Protection of women from the moment of conception- now that is really something to celebrate!
Oh yes! The Church’s prolife stance is definitely an example of how the Church celebrates and respects the dignity of women. Thank you ladies for that inclusion! A very important one for sure.
Thank you all for the wonderful comments!
I love that the Church is the only entity I know of that is *adamant* my body, with its fertility, is perfect just the way it is. Every other institution, and now, even my government, is burdened by my body, and they expect that I am too! What is this?!?!
Really have problems with #3 and #4. It does seem as though either suppressing my sexuality, denying my husband and I the freedom to express our sexuality when we chose, or having as many children as come along are the only acceptable options. And I just don’t understand why in 2012 we can not have women priests. Things are different than they were in the time of Jesus. I have a hard time looking my girls in the eye and try to explain to them why they can’t be priests. Honestly, the church makes me feel angry and frustrated most of the time. So inwardly focused on the silliest of details. I can’t stand hearing one more Homily about the dangers of contraception or the evils of homosexuality or the lack of vocations when there are things that we as a congregation could be doing to help real people in our own backyard. Blah.
Jessie, I hope this doesn’t sound patronizing, but I think the true issues that you are having are within your own heart. Feeling frustrated that making love to your husband could end up in pregnancy? That is how God created us (and is why we can also use NPF if needed)! And having to look your daughters in the eye and explain why they can’t be priests? This to me, is the same way I must explain to my son why he cannot have a baby in his tummy like me. He is a boy and that is how God created him. It doesn’t make him less special than a woman, but it does make him different. And our differences are for a purpose. Why don’t you try and encourage your girls by sharing with them all of the things that God did create them to be? They could be scientists, teachers, farmers, mothers, wives or sisters. The Church isn’t concentrating on silly details. She is concentrating on teaching us how to discover and live out our vocations within the natural laws that God created us within. Contraception is dangerous. Homosexuality, lived out, is a lifestyle that will separate one from their God given purposes (and will therefore separate one from God Himself). How can we help our neighbors when we need help ourselves? I’m glad to hear these things being taught in homilies. We need to hear them, regardless of how angry or upset they make us feel. I am praying for you, that you might find peace in your heart and that your prayer life will bring you into a closer relationship with God, so that he can replace your anger with peace. It is a volatile world we live in these days and it really is hard to stand up for what is right without feeling like you are “condemning” others. Keep praying! 🙂
Jessie: I’m so sorry you feel that the Church focuses too much what you describe as silly issues. I don’t think they are silly at all. Starting first with the priesthood, let me say that regardless of what year it is and how things have changed, the Church is timeless. Vocations to the priesthood are a VERY important issue. Without our priests we would not have the Eucharist, and without the Eucharist we would not have the Church. We need priests. And yes, women can’t be priests, because we are not men. We can not act “in persona Christi” because we are not men. This doesn’t mean that we are any less as human beings in the Church than the men around us. Not at all. Look at the Virgin Mary! It is because of her that Jesus performed His first miracle. Just because women can’t be priests doesn’t mean we can’t have important roles. It took me a long time too, to see the beauty in this. I did not always agree, but after much prayerful consideration and study I have learned the beauty and importance of this teaching. I hope you will give it more thought and prayer as well. In regard to our sexuality, the Church’s teachings again are beautiful. Have you read Humanae Vitae? I encourage you to. Again, this is another area that I also did not agree with the Church on for a long time. But I prayed and I listened and I studied more and came to really truly understand the deep reasons for the Church’s stance against contraception. Humanae Vitae played a big role in my coming around on this topic. Studying NFP (Natural Family Planning) also helped solidify my respect for the wisdom of the Church on these issues. I hope you’ll take the time to pray about thee issues more and study some on them to help gain a better understanding. And keep visiting our blog here and reading the articles, we discuss these topics in many different ways and from many different perspectives. Maybe someone else’s perspective will click with you more than mine did. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
Hi! I just love your post!
I wrote something about God´s Plan for women here:
I´m sorry, is in portuguese. But I would like to share because there is a frase from our beloved Pope JPII that for me is very significant about our mission and the “profissional carrer outside the home that is, in the media, the only way that women to be happy:
“É verdade que a igual dignidade do homem e da mulher justificam plenamente o aceso da mulher aos cargos públicos. No entanto, uma verdadeira promoção da mulher exige da sociedade o particular reconhecimento das tarefas maternas e familiares, dado que constituem um valor superior em relação às demais tarefas públicas.” The quote is from here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1987/june/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19870613_donne-uniontext_sp.html
Julie Marie: Thank you so much for your comment. A mutual friend of ours was able to supply me the English translation of the quote you gave from Pope JP II. I wanted to include it here for anyone who was interested in know what it was:
“It is true that the equal dignity of men and women fully justifies the access of women to public office. However, a true advancement of women in society requires recognition of the particular tasks maternal and family, because they provide superior value compared to other public duties.”
Love JPII, always a master with words. Thank you for your addition!
Kerri – the points you made are straightforward and objective. I might add that another example of how the Church respects women is the tireless work they do to stop human trafficking particularly among poorer nations and the immigrant population.
And then just this morning, I was reading St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he is talking about the body having many parts but are all are necessary for the body to function properly, so the Holy Spirit has granted different gifts to peoples but all part of the Church – therefore necessary for the Church to function properly.
As a labor and delivery nurse, now high school science teacher, I have a perspective on the role of women that gives me great comfort. Do you realize that Jesus’ humanity has the DNA of a female? The X of his XY chromosome came from a human female! I’m perfectly content to let the men be priests – it was a woman who managed the “first” incarnation. (Yes, I know that is loose theology – but you get my point.)
The role of women is not interchangeable with males. I think we women are missing the gold mine of our femininity as we push for greater masculinization. How blind and stupid we have been these past 40 years!!!!
The institutional church today rails against the culture of our time. Yet much of what the church teaches comes from the culture of 2,000 years ago and or the middle ages. The culture of 2,000 years ago was very misogynist. Women were property, a little better than slaves but not much. You can see how that permeates much of St. Paul’s writing. The technology of that time affects it also. I was surptised to learn recently that the female ovum was not discovered by scientists until about 1850.
The early apostles and disciples mainly talked in the temples. Women could not do that. Suppose Mary Magdalene had gone into the temple in Jesusalem to preach. She would not have gotten in and St. Paul would be there barring the door. So Jesus went with men who had all the power hoping that a great leader in the church of the future would step forward to change that. A great sign that this is not right is to look at how badly this clericalist, celibate, male dominated governance has hurt the church. If the leadership of the Vatican had been married men they would not have been so foolish as to pick a fight with the women religous.
Two comments recently were very interesting. A person does not have to be a cleric to be a cardinal. So if the church values women so highly why does it not appoint a bunch of women to the rank of cardinal. No way will the power structure share that power with women. Louis DeThomasis in his recent book had a great line. He said WHEN the church finally gets around to ordaining women as priests the first lines of their press release will start, “As we have always taught…..”
As a practicing Catholic, I find modern feminism both perplexing and tragic. What hope is there for the realization and restoration of womanhood when the tenets for achieving it disregard feminine ontology. At its root the feminist vision looks inward at a self created, self centered relationship with the masculine and ultimately with God the Creator. It seeks to dominate rather than live in harmony with. This is the same ancient folly that got us banished from the garden and will never lead us back to paradise.
It is the willful acceptance of God’s order that restores the rightful relationship between men and women. Look to the countries, cultures, ideologies, etc. around the world where Christ is not present. The varying degrees of disparity between men and women are far greater than where He is present. God’s elevation of Mary gives all women a place of great dignity and respect. She is the perfect role model for all women. Her status, given to her by the Trinity is the model for how men should treat women.
As exiles journeying towards home, we give each other hope and guidance by being the best examples of Catholic womanhood and manhood we can be. As Catholics we have been enlightened by truth and are called to be the light bearers for the rest of the world.
I find it curious that people always equate being a priest with having power in the Church. Being a priest is being a spiritual father – yes, he has a role in guiding the Church like the father of a biological family, but it’s hardly fair to say that he has all the “power” and that none of it rests in the hands of someone else, say the mother of the family. How does the saying go? “The man may be the head of the household, but the wife is the neck. She can make the head turn any way she wants to!”
Priests preach, yes, but lay people can preach outside of the Mass. I’ve held teaching roles in the Church as a lay woman before, just not during the Mass. There are plenty of women on financial counsels, pastoral counsels, etc. that have plenty to do with the day to day running of the local church and the decisions that are made there. There have been many very influential women in the Church – Catherine of Sienna ordered a pope around! As was stated earlier, Mary was the reason Jesus started His ministry – He did what His mother asked even after replying “Woman, it is not my time” (John 2). So it’s simply not at all true to say that women have no influence or power in the church simply because they can’t be priests.
To understand the priesthood, you must understand a sacrament. It’s more than just an office, more than just a job. When a priest is ordained, he stands “in persona Christi” – in the person of Christ. A priest can say “This is my body”, “This is my blood”, and “I absolve you from your sins” because through the sacrament of Holy Orders, he IS Christ in a very particular way. He is the Bridegroom, married to the Bride, the Church. Bridegrooms are male. Christ was male. Therefore it is the male who stands in His person.
I see some people on here referencing to the idea that the church is basing its teachings on 2000 years ago, suggesting that times have changed. Well let me tell you this. God doesn’t change with the times and the Holy Church will not either. It is only us that changes and sometimes those changes only draw us from Christ’s Church and into secular ideals. The very thing that Christ told us to be wary of. When I came back to the Church and learned about the true beauty of being a female, as from the eyes of God; my life has been infused with unimaginable joy. No birth control, excited to have a baby and yes, I love, honor and respect my husband as his wife. When you decide to truly let the Lord come into your life and humble yourself before him, he will pour grace over you and your heart becomes softened with love and you will go out of your way to find every possible way to magnify this love here on earth. So just try to let go of the hardened heart, let go of secular society and cling to him.
With every part of my being I wish you the very best and could only hope that you find this same joy, for it would be unthinkable to live my life without it.
In response to Tammy–
You said that you find feminism both “perplexing and tragic.” I would like to respond with a quote from “How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran: “It is technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor–biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game–before going back to hoeing the rutabaga field…The more women argue loudly against feminism the more they prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard earned privileges.”
Furthermore, you state that women are better off in Christ centered societies. Actually, women are most equal to men in SECULAR societies, such as Sweden. In Sweden for example, the wage gap between women and men performing the same job is the lowest in the entire world.
In response to JoAnn:
You claim that “God doesn’t change with the times and the Holy Church will not either.” In response to this, I would like to refer to Vatican II, which changed a large portion of the Church’s policies. For example, Vatican II changed: 1) the language in which the Catholic mass is given, 2) fasting before communion changed from midnight the previous day changed to three hours before receiving communion, 3) Saturday evening mass changed to be considered the same as going to Sunday mass, 4)eating meat changed to be allowed on Fridays outside of Lent, etc., etc. To say that the Church is static is to deny the changes that the Church made during Vatican II.
Therefore, I would have to agree with Jim– it is not WHETHER the Church will allow women to be priests, but rather WHEN.
Since I am a convert, I just don’t understand, if a woman wants to be a priest so badly or wants to point a daughter in that direction, why she would not simply become a Lutheran. Or Episcopal. Or whatever. In my admittedly quick reading of comments here, I’ve seen a lot of anger toward the Catholic Church and Her doctrines (which have never changed, although some cultural stuff like head coverings have). So what keeps you?
Michelle, I couldn’t agree with you more.
I have realized it is time for women to stand up and refuse to allow the minority feminists to continue to marginalize us / define us because we disagree with them. This applies to home, church, community and work. The “feminists” do not speak for me. I speak for myself – as a woman, mother of six (five girls), wife, sister (of six sisters, 3 bros.), professional (26 years as an RN, 12 years as a high school science teacher), active, practicing , intelligent Catholic.
Feminism has become destructively blind to truth.
This has been a very interesting conversation. I hope that those who are expressing dissent with the Church’s teaching on the priesthood will continue to read and study the issue and pray for understanding. As I said in the article, the Church celebrates women in many, many ways. And the Blessed Mother, our spiritual mother in heaven, is the Queen of all the Saints. You can’t get any higher than that as a human being.
I also loved Michelle’s comment and something she said in there came back to me this morning while I was at Mass. I knew the priest stands “in persona Christi” but had never heard it put the way she put it, that Christ is actually in him (the priest) during the consecration. This morning those words came back to me as I watched our priest elevate the host and I was struck with the awe and mystery of it all. What also struck me is how the priest must feel, the huge responsibility of it all, the overwhelming feeling that Christ is using him in order to bring himself to us through the Eucharist. It was an incredibly powerful moment. It also struck me at that moment that THIS is why we have an all male priesthood. It is not just a job for them, this is a special honor and a special calling. As women, our calling is different and God won’t call us to a vocation of the priesthood because that is not His plan for us. The Church can not change that.
Thank you all for reading and participating in this discussion. I hope you continue following this blog! 🙂
The persona Christi does not make complete sense. If Christ chooses to work through a males body, as you all keep saying. Why would females also be called to receive holy communion? That would be Christ working through a females body, when a female eats his body and drinks his blood. Why are BOTH genders called to be “Christ like”? The bible never mentions that females are to imitate Mary, is this more of a cultural tradition put into the church? Another question, if women hold “equally” important roles in the church, why are only males “called” to be in the magisterium to make decisions? Yes, women have their roles which are important, but they would NOT be there unless the males permitted the roles. How on earth does that make it equal? That is male dominance! I’ve been a catholic my life, but lately I’m struggling with this one too. Another thing, males can be monks which is pretty well equivalent to a nun, males can also help with music ministry and children’s church etc. Males can basically do everything in the church a woman can do, however, a woman definitely CANT do everything a man can do!
Marie, if you’ve ever had children, you know the awesome privilege and gift of feeling your child move under your heart. Of carrying them so intimately in the shelter of your own flesh and blood. This role–to conceive and bring new life into the world–is a role that Christ gave to WOMEN ALONE. And most women admit they would not trade this privilege for the world. A woman’s body more perfectly reflects the life-giving capacity of God’s creative spirit, which is why JPII called woman “God’s masterpiece.” If anything, it should be the men who are bothered (theologically and spiritually speaking) that they’re deprived of cooperating with God in this amazing way.
Men and women are designed by God to serve different purposes in the world. I’m not in the least bit envious of men who are called to be priests, or find it troublesome that I’m not “allowed” to be a priest. As a woman, I treasure the unique role God gave me and if anything, feel bad for men that they’ll never experience this transcendent joy of nurturing a new, immortal soul as I have. So no, men can’t do EVERYTHING a woman can do and it’s that one little thing that makes all the difference in the world.
I was anticipating that someone would respond with an answer about motherhood. I do see motherhood as a gift, let me just clarify that before I go on. No, I have not had children so this really does not help me or make me feel better about myself in any way or help me to to believe that the church in a sense does not discriminate against women. This comment only makes me feel inadequate as a woman. I don’t know if I will ever have children. I would love to have them, but I’m not sure if it will happen. Let me go further by saying its also offensive to women who have fertility issues; I don’t have those issues. I don’t have children because I’m not married yet. It seems to me that every single time a woman or man in the church tries to justify these gender roles, the woman is ONLY justified through child bearing. Women are more than child bearers! I noticed that you did not answer one of my questions in the original post-not one! I am basically shushed with the child bearing concept. Again, not every woman has had or will have children!!!! Not every man will have a child either, but the church does not seem to equate the loss of biological fatherhood to a woman. Men seem to have other important roles: priests, deacons, bishops, etc. and these are ONLY the ones in the church there are those in secular society as well. I’m sure someone will say, “oh you will understand once you have children”, but again this comment is only offensive to me and other women who haven’t had or will never have children!! Does the church ONLY look at the completeness of womanhood through motherhood? I’m sure that mothers feel that there is nothing greater than motherhood, just as a father feels there is nothing greater than fatherhood, BUT this concept does not apply to everyone and it definitely does NOT give justification to the limits the magisterium places upon women. Please, try to come up with something besides motherhood as a role it’s very offensive to me as a person and all the infertile, but the church never seems to care about the individual, only about generalizations!! I could go on and on…..
I refuse to believe there is anything above our ability to conceive and sustain life that is MORE important. That’s right. I said ABILITY. It’s an embrace of our creation as woman. What you are looking for, Marie, is a secular idea of importance. An equality based merely on equal function. By that logic, science should be trying to make men ovulate if women should be priests. The fact that Christ chose His apostle Peter over MARY ( the holiest most pure being next to Him) speaks volumes. Ponder why He did that. Was He a sexist? Or did He have different roles for Mary and Peter? Before you ask what more women have to offer than giving life, consider that without that ability, we would have no Savior. To say this acknowledgment is insulting to the infertile, that is like saying the statement “Two arms is what a human being normally has,” is insulting to people with one arm. Some of my dearest friends suffer infertility but I can tell you that they embrace their life giving roles in other ways and always see their potential of life giving as the default.
Ok I’m going to comment solely on the motherhood First, I do see motherhood as a sacred gift and I think I addressed that clearly in my previous post in the beginning. However, not ALL women will be or are mothers and it seems as If the catholic church equates motherhood to the fullness of being a woman. Are you trying to say that because I or my friends have not had children that we are not experiencing the complete joy of womanhood? This does seem offensive to me. Motherhood is a gift for the woman, just as fatherhood is a gift for men. However, not all women will become mothers just as not all men will be fathers. Giving of sperm to help create a child with a woman is the gift to the man. Yes, they are different roles but they are BOTH producing a child. The man has a gift in this creation to give of his seed, the woman has the gift of carrying and giving birth. THOSE ROLES are separate but equal. BUT the woman does NOT take part in the magisterium at all. You cannot equate motherhood/fatherhood to the roles held within the magisterium. The magisterium is ONLY male just as the priests, deacons, bishops are male! The woman does NOT have a separate but equal role within the church regarding the hierarchy because it is completely male dominated. I will be fair and say that the religious priests and nuns DO have separate but equal roles (not including the diocesan priests), because for example the Franciscan friars and the nuns BOTH take vows of poverty etc. they are separate but equal within those roles! Now, IF there was a so called role for women comparable to bishops, deacons etc. it would be separate but equal! Motherhood IS a sacred gift, yes, but I’d really like to hear another role besides motherhood that is so highly honored regarding women for the sake of myself and my friends. Going on…. Biological Motherhood nor biological fatherhood cannot be compared to the magisterium. I will break this down: Franciscan friars and nuns separate roles but equal, mothers and fathers separate but equal, boys and girls separate but equal, male teachers woman teachers separate but equal, husband and wife supposedly seperate but equal, diocesan priest and where’s the woman? Bishop and where’s the woman? Etc. You say it’s justified through motherhood, but motherhood is irrelevant to those particular roles. Again, biological motherhood/fatherhood seperate but equal. Biological motherhood is completely irrelevant to magisterium rules!!!!! I’m sure some of you will say “oh but the mother brought them into the world”, yes that’s true but so did the father! And men are justified within that element through fatherhood! A man can also not even know a woman and still join the priesthood! The magisterium is a totally different element! No woman directly complements those men within those roles. The bishops can make decisions or create rules WITHOUT the woman’s input because there are NO WOMEN there to complement them How on earth is that seperate but equal? There is NOTHING within a woman’s role where the man isnt there to complement the woman, but these roles for men do not have seperate but complementary and equal roles for women! please someone come up with something besides motherhood. And please don’t jump on me and say that I’m attacking or don’t understand motherhood, I can find catholic mothers who can agree and/or understand these concepts. not trying to offend just trying to understand. Thanks.
Anna- I think you’re greatly misunderstanding the point. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Women get offended like I’m attacking their ability and gift to have children when I’m not doing that in the first place. If I didn’t place a high importance on motherhood I wouldn’t protest abortion and desire motherhood for myself. Please read the previous post, basically the gift of motherhood is not relevant to the magisterium! I could go on to say that biological fatherhood is not relevant either! Those roles are NOT related to magisterium.
Again, you misunderstand. You are looking at the magisterium as some power driven oppressor than subjugates women. Why must equal functions equal equality? Motherhood is tied to the magisterium, AKA The Mother Church. It is the symbol of motherhood that the Church uses. It is the sacrifice of motherhood and fatherhood that the Church embraces in religious life. It is the life giving center of the womb around which the Church centers its very existence, its doctrines and dogmas, its fight for the unborn. You are seeing through secular eyes. Different roles do not have anything to do with inequality. Just because motherhood has been downplayed in society does not mean it is not important. To say the hierarchy of the Church has nothing to do with motherhood…..that is ludicrous. It permeates the Church. It is through motherhood that the Church exists to begin with. You want females as priests even though Christ established a male hierarchy. Why?
With regard to women priests : http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/womprs.txt
Elisha, you ARE attacking motherhood and the female role since you believe that it is less than the male hierarchy of the Church. When you answer the question of WHY Peter was chosen as Pope rather than Mary and WHY Mary was delegated as laity rather than a priest or member of the hierarchy, then you will have your answer. Until then, you will continue to buy into the secularization of the Church, and continue to think one role is better than another.
To clarify Marie is my middle name and Elisha is my first! Hope I didn’t appear to be confusing! I’m the same person in those posts. Thanks!
Anna- I am in no way attacking motherhood. When did I ever say that motherhood was not a gift? I see BOTH motherhood and fatherhood as gifts. You should not be telling me what my intentions are. Again, I am NOT attacking motherhood. I am stating that the roles of a biological mother are irrelevant in determining the decision making roles of men in the magisterium. Who complements the bishop? Can you answer that question? You have not answered one of my questions.You state that mothers create the priests by giving life, but so do fathers! I can easily turn that around on you and say that you are downgrading the roles of a biological father to create life. You state that there is a mother church, ok but that is the church which is composed of both men and women. Also if you want to look at the church as a building, it’s just that-a building! Define church for me please? You keep saying that I’m brainwashed by secular ideas, but we all are, we are all influenced by the world we live in to a certain extent. The secular world does have influence on the church just as the church has influence on the secular. You cannot deny it.
Anna- to answer your question, one could easily say that Christ chose men because women were inferior and would not be listened to, how is that valid today? It can also be said that the magisterium continues to choose men because they have only been men and it became tradition. Do you really think that a bunch of elderly men would be able to empathize with a woman and even think of giving her the same position? I can see the reasoning for priests based off tradition more than anything.
So you are saying that Jesus, who ate with sinners and prostitutes and condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, bent to norms of the day all of a sudden and chose a man over His mother because of norms? Seriously, give me a break. Jesus was God. He had a reason for picking his hierarchy. He chose a MAN. Why do you need a “complementary role” to feel equal? Do you think there is a reason that the Church is called MOTHER Church and not Father Church? God has a special role for women in the Church, aka the Community of the Body of Christ. It is called motherhood. Ordination does not bestow some magical superiority of role. I highly suggest you research this further. Pope John Paul II even stated that the Church has no Divine authority to ordain females.
The Pope, Bishops, and other leaders of our Church are like the fathers of the Church. Just like the father in a household who is the head of the household and hopefully also the spiritual leader of the family, the Bishops, etc., are the leaders of the Catholic Church. That is the role they were given by Christ Himself. Was Christ wrong? Somehow I don’t think so. What is the equivalent to the Bishops in their role as father-leader in the Church? Women as mothers. We are ALL mothers in the Church, not just biological mothers to our children. Nuns are spiritual mothers, single women or women without children can be spiritual mothers, there are probably many of us that are godmothers to one or more children. We can offer our prayers for the Church and work to support the Church in her teachings. Oh! Holy Mother Church! Of course! The Church herself (which we always refer to in the feminine) would probably be what you are looking for as the so-called “equivalence” to the Bishops. Just as the Magisterium is not an actualy place or office in the Vatican, it is an idea, a concept of the teachings of the Church that are then carried out by our Church leaders, Holy Mother Church is also an idea, a concept of the universal Church as a whole. So if you want something equvalent to the magisterium, it would have to be the Church herself.
I see the Church as a whole very much like a family. Isn’t that why we call the Pope our Holy Father?
I’m sorry if the motherhood analogy is not cutting it for some. I’d take that in prayer to the Blessed Mother and let her guide your heart (she after all was not just mother to Jesus, but spiritual mother to the apostles and is our spiritual mother still). I don’t know if this has helped or if I’ve satisfactorily answered some of the questions you still had, but if there is something you are still confused about I’ll be happy to try again.
Edith Stein said that woman’s unique genius is her CAPACITY to conceive and bring new life into the world and that every woman–regardless of her vocational call–is called to be both bride and mother. She also says that a woman’s body is a reflection of a woman’s soul; our bodies reflect the truth that we’re designed as creatures with the capacity to nurture others and help them reach their fullest potential.
This capacity is most obviously expressed in childbearing, but it’s not exclusively expressed in that role. But, I do disagree with the assumption that our life-giving ability is incidental to the equation. It’s not–it’s essential. Yes, I’ve had children. But even when I’m not able to welcome a new life due to circumstances, I know that God bestowed me with an awesome power, a power to nurture life both biologically and spiritually, in others. That’s the role of bride and mother that Stein was talking about and it’s not offensive to say that’s a role men are not called to live out. I haven’t reduced women to incubators, but I do insist our ability to cooperate with God in the conception and nurturing of life–of all life–is our particular gift that men are not privileged to participate in.
Anna-also I really encourage you to go back through my posts and answer my exact questions instead of accusing me of attacking motherhood. You seem to be on here to defend your role as a mother, more than to show compassion toward me and the way I feel. Do you really see me on here defending my role as a single woman? Not really. That’s another good question for you, what do you believe my role is as a single woman with no children? You certainly can’t say motherhood, can you? Thought provoking!
I addressed single women: spiritual motherhood. I believe Misty also said the same thing. It’s the same role that a religious sister, nun, or consecrated virgin woudl take.
Really Anna? Give you a break? Why don’t you give me one! I know what the pope said, so there is no need to post about him. Just because I know what he said doesn’t mean that I won’t question it. I know the pope is intelligent but I also know my questions are worthy of answers as much as yours are or even the popes. To answer your question, catholic church also goes by tradition so it’s fair to say men are chosen through tradition. I’m sorry if you feel so offended, but maybe the church offends me if you want to call it that.
I’m curious to know where Elisha is getting confused. We’ve now had the same thing said several different ways.
Let me ask you to go a different way, Elisha.
Can you provide us with credible/orthodox links that back up your point of view? I think that would help us better understand where the gap in communication is occurring.
There is certainly nothing wrong with questioning. Questions are good, it helps lead us to better understanding. Several of us here are trying to explain the all-male priesthood to bring about better understanding to your questions regarding that topic. Anna’s posting about the Pope’s words were only an attempt to bring about better understanding. We’ve (Anna, Misty, myself, and a few others) have attempted to explain the Church’s teachings in a variety fo ways. We’d love to help bring you better understanding. Maybe we aren’t understanding your question? Maybe there is a deeper question that we haven’t answered? We may not be able to solve everything just in this conversation, but we can provide you food for thought. Ultimately you need to bring this to prayer, perhaps speak with a spiritual director, do some more research, and in the end, sometimes faith and belief in the Church may be the only thing we can cling to.
Help us try to help you, what questions have we not managed to address?
Kerri- what is spiritual motherhood? Can you give me an example? You say it is the same as a nuns? Well then why become a nun? You also say there is a mother church. Well the church consists of both men and women and men have father roles. Define this motherhood in the church. Is it to pray as nuns do? Both men and women are called to pray Kerri. Can this spiritual essence be defined through women alone? Because it seems to me that it encompasses both males and females whereas the magisterium is composed ONLY of human males. When you refer to the mother church you refer to males and females in the church. When you think of the magisterium you think all human males. I could go on and on….
Spiritual Motherhood – http://catholicspiritualmotherhood.com/
Men and Women’s spiritual roles are defined differently through the Church. Men are in the spiritual role of the hierarchy and women in the spiritual role of the laity. Men can also be in the laity. It is only through Jesus’ design that they are elevated to the hierarchy. I’m not sure how you see this as an unequal stance.
The term Mother Church is both historical and spiritual- Sancta Mater Ecclesia. The principal definition in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is “The Church, esp. the Roman Catholic Church, considered as a mother in its functions of nourishing and protecting the believer.” God is the Father.
With all due respect, Elisha, I must ask if you are a Catholic or seeking Catholicism?
Yes, Mother Church is made up of all of us: males and females, religious, priests, etc., etc. Yes, we all should be praying, male and female alike. But men and women are different, thus we pray in different ways, we take on different roles, we’re called to different vocations and so on and so forth. Not every man is called to the priesthood or to religious life, obviously we need lay men as well. I don’t think of all these roles as solely human males do this and human females do that. It’s not that simple. Motherhood refers to the nurturing of the Church. Women are by nature nurturing beings. That is not to say that males can’t be nurturing or that it is possible that some women are not nurturers, it isn’t exactly black and white. But as for defining motherhood in the Church, I see it as a nurturing role. Supportive of the men in our lives and their spiritual health, raising up children who are open to God’s will for their lives, praying for the spiritual health of our godchildren, nieces, nephews, friends’ children, etc. Can men do all those things. Yes they could. But they do them differently. God made men and women different so we approach these things in different ways, we do things differently. That for me is what spiritual motherhood is about, nurturing the future of the Church. I really don’t see the Magisterium (which is NOT a physical place or office) as this male-dominated, male-ruling thing that is oppressing us in any way; I think of the Magisterium as the teachings of the Church. That was kind of the whole point of the article: women ARE celebrated by the Church. The Church needs women to be whole.
I think it was St. Catherine of Siena that instructed the Pope at the time that he needed to return to Italy back when the papacy was temporarily moved to the south of France. She weilded quite a bit of power there and the Pope listened to her. There are many examples of this kind of thing in the Church, so I don’t feel it is fair to say that males have all the power. It’s not even about power to begin with anyway.
Hope this helps some.
Anna: Elisha stated way back in a previous comment that she has been Catholic all her life but has been questioning this particular teaching (maybe others?) recently.
I’m coming in way late to this conversation, so I apologize for that. But I’m interested in understanding why women are so covetous of the role of priest/member of the magisterium? What is so offensive about not being permitted to enter the priesthood? That’s a sincere question.
It *seems* to me that women get upset about this because they desire the power and the influence of those positions. Someone did use the word power here, and I believe someone else nicely addressed that word in another post. The role of priest is not about power and exerting influence in the Church. You won’t find any holy priests who joined the priesthood because they wanted “power.” The men who did are probably not good priests. Why? Because the priesthood is about service to Christ and to others. People who desire power and influence in the Church are the last people who should be in those roles. Being a priest is not about getting to add YOUR voice to voice of the Church, but about listening to and sharing the voice of Christ.
Elisha, this is a great website that delves into some of the issues you have shared. It seems there is a level of catechesis that is missing from your arguments. I would encourage you to visit Catholics Come Home as well as google answers from EWTN and Catholic Answers.
Misty- yes I agree that women are nurturers for life even when they do not biologically have children. However, men are also nurturers. Men are nurses, teachers, doctors, they change diapers, they cook, they advise….. Again Im sorry but I don’t see the so called female roles as solely feminine in secular or in the church. To place those qualities and roles within the realm of only feminine is not correct. The only thing that I see that is not compatible is the positions solely given to men. Many of you argue from the standpoint that the men are the leaders, this may be valid but it definitely does not make me feel better about being a female. I can even argue that the church does seem more spot on when they choose only male leaders compared to secular male roles. But I’m sorry it still doesn’t sit well with me, I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t. I surely don’t want to believe that Jesus would want me to feel that way. Personally I never thought of myself as subject to a man, but for some reason what I keep gathering from blogs from catholic women they seem to. I think I’ll just agree to nod, smile and just not say anything from now on because these men in the magisterium could care less of how that makes me feel.
Feelings are valuable at times, but they are not everything. Just because something makes us feel bad doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. I feel bad when someone tells me a truth I don’t want to hear, even if they said it in love. I know Jesus doesn’t want me feeling bad, but that’s because he wants me to be accepting of that truth rather than letting the truth upset me. The problem is not with whatever made me feel upset – the problem is with me.
The reason I know that the feminist movement of today and the agitation for women in the priesthood are not holy or inspired by God is because they very much lack humility. The language is all about “me” – MY feelings, MY desire to be great, MY *right* to do x,y, and z – and it’s all about competition and power. That’s not the language of Our Lord.
Mary- Really? So now you accuse me of being selfish for feeling a certain way. I could easily say that you are selfish for not seeing the way that I feel. All of these arguments that everyone is bringing up make sense, but for some reason you all seem to think there is justice if men are leaders no matter what. You know what Mary if I told a man he could not do something because he is a man, he’d have a few choice words to say to men and it would be accepted because he’s a man. This does not include child birth, because any man knows he cannot biologically give birth!! Just as a woman cannot give sperm!! So that argument is not relevant.
I’m pretty sure that the original article doesn’t say anything about us being subject to men. And I don’t think anyone here said anything in the comments about being subject to men, as if we can’t do anything without a man telling us what to do or giving us permission. We are very much equal beings in the Church. Equal meaning in the equality of the dignity of the human person. But equal in dignity does not mean we have to have equal roles, that if men can do x, women have to be able to do x. Sometimes women can’t do x but they can do y.
I myself used to not understand why women couldn’t be priests. I came from a very secular, feminist perspective. It took a lot of time for me to understand it. I had to pray about, I had to study, and I had to ask questions. My feelings got in the way a lot (like Mary was just saying above). When I finally turned those feelings over to God I was able to accept some of these harder teachings (for me) that I couldn’t accept before. And with acceptance and faith that God and the Church guided by the Holy Spirit was more right than I ever could be, I started seeing the beauty in it all.
I hope you can see the beauty of it one day, too. Keep questioning and keep studying and most importantly keep praying on it. I pray that one day you too will be able to embrace the beauty of our roles as women in the Church, as well as our male counterparts roles in the Church (whether ordained, consecrated, or laity). Peace and blessings to you!
Um, I didn’t see anything in Mary’s comments that was accusatory of anyone being selfish. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and not read something into a comment that’s not there. This kind of dialogue is good and encouraged but it will break down if we accuse each other of saying things we haven’t. Let’s not do that, please.
Men and Women’s spiritual roles are defined differently through the Church. Men are in the spiritual role of the hierarchy and women in the spiritual role of the laity. Men can also be in the laity. <—Anna you just stated it, this is why it's not equal. Men are allowed in the laity and in the hierachy whereas women are only permitted in the laity, even as nuns. I don't understand why you have a hard time seeing why I see that as not being equal. The other day when I went to church, the priest stated that Mary was an apostle in his homily. This makes sense because…..please fill in the blanks.
Answer this question: Why do you perceive equal functions to mean equal roles and therefore equal importance?
Kerri- Well that’s great that you found peace in it. I have the opposite story. I was raised catholic and my dad is new as a deacon. I am just now questioning the roles. I have a friend who used to be in the priesthood and he asked for permission to be in the laity. I ask him questions as well and these so called “feelings” of mine do come up. The fact of the matter is, no matter how you try to explain it, women are not equal in the church….period. The explanation of spirtual motherhood is a very, very vague and broad term and it can encompass the laity of males. The explanation of fatherhood within the church is a very distinct role. People ask why some people equate it to power? Well, because they make the decisions, they wear the hats, they stand in the person of Christ (is christ not powerful to represent?), they receive holy orders……how is this NOT powerful? The catholic church is very powerful and it’s ran by men. I think if you believe that a priest is not powerful you are kidding yourselves! Have you seen what the pope wears? Have you been to the vatican?
Anna- Why do you not? Do you honestly see the pope as having a position of lesser importance in the church than a nun? Please tell me why a nun is required to live in poverty while the pope clearly does NOT live in poverty!?
I pray you will come to a fuller understanding of the richness of your Catholic faith. You seem intent on focusing on power and prestige, which are not of God. The Church is the hand of God on Earth. If Jesus has seen fit to create a male hierarchy, I will not allow my pride and my mere human understanding to blind myself to the Will of God. The role of man and woman in the Church is identical to their Creation, for they are created equal yet distinct in their being and role. Your opinion will not sway thousands of years of Church history, doctrine, dogma and tradition:
CCC III. “MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM”
Equality and difference willed by God
369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.240 Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity “in the image of God”. In their “being-man” and “being-woman”, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness.
370 In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.241
“Each for the other” – “A unity in two”
371 God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the sacred text. “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him.”242 None of the animals can be man’s partner.243 The woman God “fashions” from the man’s rib and brings to him elicits on the man’s part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”244 Man discovers woman as another “I”, sharing the same humanity.
372 Man and woman were made “for each other” – not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other, for they are equal as persons (“bone of my bones. . .”) and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming “one flesh”,245 they can transmit human life: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”246 By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator’s work.247
373 In God’s plan man and woman have the vocation of “subduing” the earth248 as stewards of God. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of the Creator “who loves everything that exists”,249 to share in his providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility for the world God has entrusted to them.
In persona Christi makes complete sense. When the priest stands in persona Christi this means that Christ is actually present within him. Christ himself is changing the bread and wine into his body and blood. When we consume Christ in the Eucharist he is entering our bodies in a completely different way. The two are not same at all. Likewise, being called to be “Christ-like” is different as well. This does not mean that we are called to summons Christ to be physically in us but our actions are supposed to mimic his, meaning we are to love others the way he did, we are to work towards holiness, we are to put God at the center of our lives and all that we say and do should reflect His love.
You are right that the Bible does not say that we have to imitate Mary, but why wouldn’t we want to? Mary was the first Christian. She was open to God’s will in her life. She could have easily said no to Him but she didn’t. She remained faithful to God even when she saw such cruelty and despair. She praised Him when really any other person would have turned his/her back on God after experiencing all that she experienced. Of course she’s a wonderful role human role model for us to imitate! The first miracle the Christ performed was at the prompting of his mother. When she wanted him to do something for the wine situation at the wedding at Cana he scolded her and said, “Don’t you know that now is not my time.” And yet, even though he didn’t want to begin his ministry at that time, because his mother asked him to, he did! It seems to me that Mary truly held a very important position. The Church understands this and encourages us to follow her example in all that we do. If Christ could take direction from his mother it seems we should too.
As far as only males being “called” to the magisterium, well, I suppose this is true. But then again, Jesus called only men to be his Apostles, the original magisterium. If the Church is going to follow in Christ’s footsteps it seems that it is right that once again men be in those positions. This is not to say that women aren’t able to make decisions, just the opposite! There are women who hold jobs as canon lawyers, judges and chancellors. These women help determine and uphold the laws of the Church! Seems to me that women are deeply rooted into the inner most goings on of the Church.
It is true that a woman can’t be a priest, but let’s be honest and say that not all men can be priests either. Let me repeat that for you… not all men can be priests either. You may feel like any man who wants to be a priest can just become one but this is not the case. What does this say about the priesthood? It says that Jesus only calls a select few, just as he did 2000 years ago. He didn’t call every man he saw and he never called women. Today he is still the same, only calling certain men to his priesthood. The Church understands this and upholds this Sacred Tradition.
Finally, let’s look at all the things that women can do in the Church outside of being mothers or nuns… they can be pastoral associates (this is someone who helps out the priest with his pastor duties), they can be sponsors at both baptisms and confirmations, they can serve on councils and finance committees, they can oversee various groups within the Church (service groups, religious education groups, etc), they can be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, they can usher and read at Mass, as well as be nuns, mothers, and single women within the Church. Yes, men can do all these things except be a nun or a mother and that is ok. But please know that just because Christ didn’t call women to be priests doesn’t mean he didn’t call us to do other great things within the church!
I just have a few things to say after going through the comments (and i hope my comment will be posted as am writing from faraway Nigeria!)
first,who says that it is those ‘occupying seats of power and prestige’ that are truly important? Important people are not those on the stage,making noise,but rather those behind the scenes,running things.
Secondly,i’ve observed that when issues of gender equality come up,emotions keep flying around and blocking the truth. For those who are questioning why we have only male priests,in humility and without and ‘pre-prepared’ emotions,ask Jesus in prayer why he chose only male apostles.
Lastly,think about this:behind every successful or unsuccessful,unhappy man,there’s ALWAYS a woman. A woman dosen’t have to be before;when she’s behind,that is when she is powerful.
I know this dosen’t answer everyone’s question,but i hope it helps in a way to better understand some things.
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