SOMETIME in 2018, Ireland’s former president, Mary McAleese, led a group of Irish women in urging Pope Francis to tear down Vatican’s “walls of misogyny”.
They criticized the Church’s ban on female priesthood, “depriving women of any significant role in the Church’s leadership, doctrinal development and authority structure”.
“How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership?” she asked the Pope.
In promising to put more women in senior positions in the Vatican, Pope Francis only succeeded in dodging the issue. To this day, the Roman Catholic Church justifies its adamance, “Jesus chose only men as his apostles.”
Progressive Catholic women worldwide have been badgering the Church to integrate women into priesthood and fire homosexual priests since the time of Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in February 2013.
Because of the dwindling number of manly men entering the seminaries, Pope Benedict might have sounded off the same when he ascended the papal throne to succeed the late Pope John Paul II.
For in his inaugural address in 2005, he said: “My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church.”
Was it because the “whole Church” would not listen that he resigned eight years later?
I remember a forum in Antipolo where Dr. Michael L. Tan – chancellor of UP-Diliman – spoke on “Misogyny in Church”.
“Fire the homosexuals?” he joked. “Then there would only be half of the priests left.”
Dr. Tan saw it unfair that the Church tolerated homosexuals in the clergy but was prejudicial against women. He blamed the “early church fathers” for handing down to the present generation their sexist treatment of women.
Tan cited St. Ambrose (339-397 AD) who, as Bishop of Milan, imputed second-class status on woman because “she was only a rib taken out of Adam’s body.”
St. John Chrysostom (347-407 AD), Bishop of Constantinople, called woman “an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil for the man.” He urged men not to marry.
St. Augustine (354-450 AD) blamed Eve for the “original sin.” Adam could not have eaten of the forbidden fruit had Eve, the only one who succumbed to the serpent’s deception, not transgressed first. Thus, Augustine hyped his conversion to Christianity as “a vocation of celibacy.”
To St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), “women symbolize decay, deformity and weakness.”
If the aforementioned pillars of the Catholic faith were to resurface today and repeat what they said in their time, today’s women would curse back.
The woman’s procreative role, Dr. Tan pointed out, had rubbed on the issues of conception and contraception in modern times, albeit with radical modifications. He cited Pope Pius XI, who, in 1930, issued the encyclical Casti Connubi: “The conjugal act is designed primarily by nature for the begetting of children, but there are secondary ends, such as mutual love and quieting of lust.”
Pope Pius XII, in a speech before midwives in 1951, announced that it was all right for couples to have sex during infertile or safe periods if they had good reasons for limiting the number of their children.
In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which allows natural methods as the only church-approved forms of family planning.
Dr. Tan, a Catholic, admitted that most present-day Catholic couples embrace artificial methods like the pill, condom and intra-uterine device.
It’s their way of opposing the Church’s misogyny or ingrained prejudice against women. ([email protected]/PN)