A Woman's "place" in the Church
A Woman's "place" in the Church.
In Shakespeare's “The Merchant of Venice,” we are treated to the wonderful soliloquy by Shylock that questions the rational basis of prejudice. “Have we not eyes, hands and senses like others?” the sadly puzzled merchant queries. I think this inquiry is relevant for us to think of in viewing the Catholic Church’s attitude towards women.
In what way are these creations of God different from the male of our species? Have they not a loving heart? Have they not devotion and reverence? Are they not diligent in the services that they perform for the church? On what basis should women be banned from conducting the ritual of the Mass?
Holy writ never barred women from celebrating the Mass. Men did that. The Lord knows that, with notable exceptions, men haven't done that job any better than women could have. The day can't arrive soon enough for me when women become priests.
As a sometime Catholic, I draw umbrage in artificial distinctions that discriminate against women. It much goes against the grain of the American psyche to have over 50% of our population relegated to the back benches because the miracle of birth has consigned them to the role of woman and mother, a role our own society much treasures above all else.
If we allow silly gender distinctions like these to discriminate against women, we open ourselves not only to justifiable ridicule by honest critics, but to serious re- evaluations from our own faithful as to the continuing validity of a structure that negates the contributions of half the population who were created by a loving god in his image. Martin Luther had similar questions as to doctrinal relevancy a few years back. Maybe we have to revisit his thought processes today?
Were the Catholic Church a democracy, I would challenge these policies on the electoral field, and clean their clocks over this issue. In that this is not to be, I suggest that each of us must reevaluate for ourselves a system that denigrates the worth of our sisters who contribute more than most to the living entity that is the Catholic Church. I think what we need here is not more altar girls and priests, but a very large number of female Monsignors, Bishops and Cardinals. It hasn't yet dawned on the church hierarchy that half of the world's population, and arguably its more spiritually oriented, need to be able to participate and have their say about how we do things.
And when and if that day actually comes when we become enlightened enough to choose a female pope, perhaps we may be better able to accomplish some of the things that Jesus of Nazareth taught us to do. He was among the greatest, most farseeing and enlightened revolutionaries of his age. Would that he were around today. I think he would lead the charge on this issue. A loving and merciful God would not bar women from celebrating his existence, or at least not a god that I would want to be associated with anyway.
There must be some serious debate on this issue. If you have proper regard for your mothers, daughters, sisters and female family members, you will send the “boys” a resounding message from America that this is the 21st Century, not the fourth. Let women participate as equal partners in the church. They serve the Lord in devotion and bring credit to all of us.
Joseph Xavier Martin