September 20, 2013

"I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of 'female machismo,' because a woman has a different make-up than a man."

"But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo," said Pope Francis.
Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church.
This is guarded and abstruse. The key word seems to be "function," as if it's all about the usefulness of women. Obviously, he's not talking about formal equality. If he's a feminist, he's a difference feminist. A lot of deep thinking is needed about what women are for.

What is woman's place, her specific place in those places of the various areas?

42 comments:

traditionalguy said...

The woman's place is as a wife of a man and a mother of children. Christianity's founder declared men and women equal as sons and daughters of God in Christ. Ergo: in the Church they are equal in the eyes of the Holy Spirit a/k/a The Lord.

Why the the hard question here? Is it fear of women running wild? Or is it fear of men feeling useless?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Obviously, he's not talking about formal equality.

The notion of equality is absurd. Equivalency is a better and more realistic goal, but some cannot live with nuance.

betamax3000 said...

Functionality. The Chosen Will Be My Willing Slaves in the Spangled Forever of the AfterWorld. They Shall Sponge Me With Light Oils: I Well Smell of Hibiscus and Mint. They Shall Frolic in the Garden of Stars, Diaphanous and Dazzled, Eating Grapes of Light from the Vine. Endless Time for Games, Uninhibited and Unburdened: Prepare the Clay Tablets For My Words.

Hagar said...

A friend of mine says the sexes will never be "equal" because the women will never agree to give up that much power.

Henry said...

Why the the hard question here? Is it fear of women running wild? Or is it fear of men feeling useless?

Can you call the Pope and ask him?

Ann Althouse said...

The funk of function.

We are so funcked.

betamax3000 said...

I Shall Draw an Elegant Heart Upon Your Breast That Only I Can See: In This Way I Shall Find You in the AfterWorld and Bring You Under My Wing. Wine Will Flow From the Tips of My Fingers, and Your Lips Shall Speak Lovingly of My Name. I Will Exhibit Benevolence, My Little Lambs.

BarrySanders20 said...

"In the fundamental differences between men and women, of course equality is absurd. We are not the same."

But in terms of treatment or status, it is not.

We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equivalent.

The equivalent protection clause.

Doesn't really have the same ring, and nuance can't rescue it.

Those of course are governing principles. Religions make up thier own rules and equality need not apply. But then embrace the inequality and defend it.

The pope is trying to have it both ways here. Sounds to me like he's ready to consider big changes, but knows he needs to tread lightly around certain dogma, since he's already in danger of being labeled a dogma-trodder.

He'd be a difficult witness to pin down in a deposition.

betamax3000 said...

The Universe Holds Within It All the Time Needed to Explain My Wisdom: My Words Will Fill Copper Plates and Be Sung By Birds. Little Bird, Come To Me and There Will Be No Need to Fly. Let The World's Earthly Troubles and Deep Questions Fall Effortlessly Behind You, Unaddressed: You Have the Place That I Have Left For You. Dignity Shall Be Given to You in Silver Bowls.

Dad said...

Is he backhandedly saying, "Demanding that women be treated as Men Without Penises by the church is not deep thinking."

Richard Dolan said...

Focusing on the geographical terms ('places', 'areas') or the economic-sounding ones ('function') misses the key: "a profound theology of the woman." He could just as easily have said "a profound theology of the man." In the Catholic tradition, theology is a reflection on biblical revelation considered in light of church tradition -- it's all about discerning God's plan and calling.

Giving the starting point -- bibilical revelation and church tradition -- there is nothing modern, let alone post-modern, about what he is saying. The essence of modernism, certainly of the feminist sort, is a rejection of any essential foundation, any necessary starting point. Instead, it's all about social constructs, relationships of power-dominance-submission that give rise to class/gender/racial differences.

Hard to see much common ground between the Pope's frame of reference and that. Recognizing that reality, this Pope wants to get past the abstruse discussions and, as he said in the interview, first "heal the wounds." The ones he has in mind arise from poverty, despair, cruelty and neglect, not feminist theorizing. He doesn't dismiss feminist concerns -- it's just that they're not his primary focus in light of the more pressing sources of the manifest "wounds" that need attention. (You can almost hear Parsifal in the background.)

Oso Negro said...

He is going to let priests get married and let women join the priesthood. This will end the homosexual grip on the church. Mark it down.

Clayton Hennesey said...

Isn't he just saying the role of women is to break the bread and make the sandwiches?

sghart3578 said...

If women were truly equal they wouldn't need protection from the government and the legal system. If women were truly "equal" as some fantasy indulgers claim then you could go to the most lawless places on earth and see equal amounts of men and women in subjugation and servitude. The reality is that when you strip away western morality women are not equal. I think it is striking that women like Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein praise the middle east when women there can't even drive.

betamax3000 said...

Only the Enlightened Few of the AfterWorld Truly Understand the Feminine Genius and Gracefully Give It Room To Delicately Blossom, Gently Nurturing it as the Sun Does the Vine: I Will Give No Reason to Doubt My Caring, Little Ones.

carrie said...

Well the Catholic Church has a long history of having places for women--think Nun! Nuns ran schools, colleges, orphanages, hospitals and missions long before there were feminists. I loved the books "Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather (based on the life of Bishop Lamy) and the Pulitzer prize winning "Lamy of Santa Fe" (a biography of Bishop Lamy) not only because Bishop Lamy's story is incredible but also because of the Nuns who answered Bishop Lamy's call and built schools, hospitals and orphanages in the wild West.

MadisonMan said...

For some reason, I'm flashing on Pope Benedict's shoes. He had fabulous shoes.

I am not a fan of some Catholic Churches that overemphasize Mary, sometimes to the detriment of her Son. Maybe this is a reaction to the diminished role of women in Church. I don't know.

I have no objections to women Priests, if they are called to the Priesthood by God. I don't want someone who's a Priest just because she wants to right some perceived injustice to her Sex by becoming a Priest. That is, spare me the axe-grinding.

carrie said...

Well the Catholic Church has a long history of having places for women--think Nun! Nuns ran schools, colleges, orphanages, hospitals and missions long before there were feminists. I loved the books "Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather (based on the life of Bishop Lamy) and the Pulitzer prize winning "Lamy of Santa Fe" (a biography of Bishop Lamy) not only because Bishop Lamy's story is incredible but also because of the Nuns who answered Bishop Lamy's call and built schools, hospitals and orphanages in the wild West.

Amichel said...

He touches on something that has always made sense to me. If we accept that the Priesthood (e.g. the bishops) was founded by Jesus when he called 12 men to be his apostles, but not his mother Mary. Mary is the most important disciple, the most important saint; far above St. Peter the first Pope and all the bishops to today. Yet, she was not called to be an apostle. She was not called to be a priest. This suggests that there is a reason for that, that there is some aspect inherent to men and women that Jesus himself recognized during his lifetime. I think this is why we will never see women priests in the Catholic church. Even if many or even most bishops think that women are capable or being priests, the force of tradition and Jesus's own example are too strong.

betamax3000 said...

I Alone Recognize Your Unique Essence, Be It at The Gas Station, The Taco Bell, or Alone in Your One-Bedroom Apartment in Your Moment of Self Doubt: I Will Make the Universe Safe For You.

El Pollo Raylan said...

If I may be so bold as to liken the sexes to simple acids and bases, link1, then a functional definition is preferred: link2

It's not so much pinning down what something is but rather what it does.

C Stanley said...

Is there significant difference between "role" and "function" ? He was asked specifically about the role of women in the Church, and he answered in a way that indicates a desire for women to have a greater voice in the hierarchy, while retaining their specific feminine dignity. I don't see the problem, it seems quite clear to me.

Clark said...

I think he views all people in terms of their usefulness to the Church. I think if he had been asked about masculinity, h would likely have spoken in terms of a man's function in the church. The Pope may well be a chauvinist, but I don't think this proves it.

Jim said...

I am not Catholic, but I read a few Catholics and I suspect that you have to understand their context to understand what the Pope is saying. This was written March 15 (i.e. not in response to the Pope's statement).

After the Vatican II dust settled, the Roman Catholic Church became inflicted with committees, endless committees. At first mainly staffed by clerics, as the number of priests dwindled, laymen "stepped up" to the new task, especially at the diocesan and parish level. As the years rolled by and the Church became more feminized, the committees were mostly staffed by women. We're at the point right now, where most local parishes are run by women.

Women are, in other words, effectively taking over the running of the Catholic church at the local level. Some people like that. Some don't.

The quote is from here- http://carnivorescave.blogspot.com/2013/03/catholic-co-ed-football.html

Dr.D said...

As usual, Frank is confused and talking mush. Pay no attention, and hope he will go away.

He is such a bitter disappointment after the brilliant Benedict XVI. The Church has lost a genius and put in his place an idiot.

Inga said...

It's a first step, albeit a tiny one. He is the Pope, but still a man and a Catholic.

Years ago a function for women in the Catholic Church wasn't even pondered, beyond being a nun or the wife of a man. Women serve the same function as men, to be human and live a life we don't regret more than we are proud of. Functioning as children of the Creator.

Men and women both have two arms, two legs, a brain, why does it matter so much what genetalia we posses? The constant denial of equality is tiresome, we know we are equal. What drives men to want to deny it and insist on a dominant role over women? Why should any adult human insist on dominance?

jimbino said...

The women I have known do not:

Put the new toilet paper roll on the holder; rewind the vacuum cleaner cord; load dishes properly in a dishwasher.

I'd like to see them lean in a bit to those simple chores. I suppose someone should turn those tasks into Yoga positions so they could learn.

Sigivald said...

A lot of deep thinking is needed about what women are for.

I suspect he also has deep thinking about what men are for.

The Catholic (and generally Christian) worldview is all about purpose in God's plan, ain't it?

RonF said...

"Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. "

That's a very Roman Catholic thing to say. I belong to the Episcopal Church, which is about as close to being Roman Catholic without actually being one - and in our Church Mary is a primary character in the Christmas story and for the average churchgoer that's about it.

RonF said...

To pick up on El Pollo Raylan's comment, some people seem to be confused between "equal" and "identical". The fact that two people may be equal in a relationship, whether personal, legal or societal, does not mean that they have interchangable roles.

Amichel said...

@Inga
"Men and women both have two arms, two legs, a brain, why does it matter so much what genetalia we posses? The constant denial of equality is tiresome, we know we are equal. What drives men to want to deny it and insist on a dominant role over women? "

I agree that men and women are equal, but it does not follow that they are interchangeable. A man and a woman are not just different exteriors on the same package, they are fundamentally different, down to the cellular level. A woman has two X chromosomes throughout her body, while a man has one X and one Y. A man has testes, which have been drenching his body in testosterone from before birth. A woman has ovaries and a womb, which have been similarly pumping her body full of estrogen. A woman is able to bear children, a man is not. These are fundamental differences, recognized in law and custom for thousands of years; why would it be any different in the Church?

As Prof. Althouse is fond of saying in discussions of abortion, a men and women have fundamental differences in the investment and risk undertaken in sex, conception, and child rearing. We recognize that in a myriad of ways in our laws, families, and societies. Again, why would the church be different?

Carol said...

Women are, in other words, effectively taking over the running of the Catholic church

I'm not sure where this Pope is headed, but if women were to become priests, the Church would soon be ALL women...men would take their ball(s) and go home. It would be like the U-U's, all women and p-whipped men. Ugh.


Inga said...

The differences are evident Amicheal, but what does that have to do with equality? We are not so genetically different so as to be a different species. We are all human, that is the bottom line, IMO. Why stress differences for negative purposes? I'm not saying you did this, but many do and it's high time it stops.

subduedchick said...

First of all, "equal" is not, nor should it be, "same." In a car, the gas pedal and brake are equally important, though they carry out different functions.

Second, Inga's claim that "years ago a function for women in the Catholic Church wasn't even pondered, beyond being a nun or the wife of a man" shows a distinct ignorance of the role women play as "mere" nuns and wives. Mothers and nuns (those who acted as teachers) were and are responsible for rearing and educating the next generation -- that seems like a pretty important task to me; but then, I'm not a militant feminist who devalues any woman who doesn't feel compelled to abandon home and hearth for the corporate world. And those other nuns? The ones who ran most of the hospitals in the modern world (saving thousands of lives as they did so)until not that long ago? Yeah, they were marginalized as well, I suppose.

Those who think women have been overlooked - or worse, downtrodden - in the Catholic Church fail to properly understand the Catholic Church, or are simply looking at it through a feminist lens (in which case, nothing short of a female pope will satisfy them).

averagejoe said...

"Feminine Genius"...LOL. I knew this beta-male was Democrat Party material. Much like President Mom-jeans, this jerkoff has a skewed and agenda driven worldview full of strawmen, windmills and imaginary monsters that only he can see and slay. And like Hussein, he's out to fundamentally change things, like making abortion A-OK with the church. This turkey's pronouncements sound like the affronted utterances of a columnist for Slate magazine.

Crunchy Frog said...

Men Without Penises - didn't they have a couple decent hits in the '80s?

Inga said...

Subduedchick,
How about not twisting my words? I thought that it would be evident that I was referring to the fact that there are no women priests. Where did I say that the role that women play in the Catholic Church as nuns and the many jobs they do and as wives and mothers, outside of the role of priest as unimportant? Why do you have the word "mere" in quotes, did I use that word? No I did not. Nor am I a militant feminist, heck I'm not even a feminist.

I think this Pope is going to shake up the Church and people like you, it's already interesting and I think it will continue. That is why this Pope is gaining popularity daily.

readering said...

Francis has inherited an unalterable position that the bishops running the Church shall be men. He is struggling to find greater room for women to also play leading roles within that constriction, which he has to accept as God's plan. Will take some genius.

SOJO said...

I love this Pope, but this was not a good answer. They need women to do the thinking about women. They can't do it. Hence the confusion. They haven't been around women in any kind of a normal way. Note even this Pope has any idea how to integrate them and he's admitting his ignorance, which is good. There are plenty of nuns already in place that have done the thinking for them. They just need to listen to them and put a few in positions to execute on changes. I'm not even talking priesthood, I mean regular old organizational and policy change.

Theranter said...

Oh how I dearly miss Benedict.

Francis' writing is too painful to read.

Theranter said...

Inga, are you, or "were" you Catholic? I do not ask dispairingly, just curious.

Most feminists I know, including myself, would not (unless no other option existed) I repeat, would not, go to confession before a woman priest.

Like amichael correctly says, there are inherent differences in women and men. Neither is better or more equal than the other. It's not a plessy - type situation. I know it's hard to grasp outside of our normal way of constructing an argument. And without reading (critically) thousands of hours and hundreds of years of thinkers, it is supremely hard to grasp, especially when one is so concerned (as I was) with attacking that which is really our greatest ally-be it men or Our Lady or The Holy Trinity.

Some interesting starts would be Elizabeth Anscombe; some recent greats would be John Finnis or R. McIntyre. Lots available in summary form and arguments for and against, on SSRN.

subduedchick said...

Oh, forgive me, Inga -- you didn't mean their roles as wives and mothers aren't important. They're just NOT ENOUGH!

I agree, Pope Francis is invigorating the Church, and her faithful, but I think people like YOU will be sorely disappointed when your dreams of female priests do not come to fruition.

And exactly what kind of person do you presume to think I am, anyway?